As part of my eternal struggle as a father, I took my kid to see The Lego Ninjago Movie this past weekend and, I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. For those who don’t know, Ninjago is about a group of multi-hued Lego ninjas who get into adventures. The cartoon series is actually quite entertaining, and the movie builds on that with a steady stream of sly humor that will keep parents from drifting off or rolling their eyes. While it isn’t quite on par with The Lego Movie or Lego Batman, it’s still an amusing enough diversion for a Saturday afternoon with a five-year-old.
The story is essentially what you’ve seen in the trailers — the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) wants to take over the city of Ninjago, and is opposed by the aforementioned six ninjas, one of which, Lloyd (Dave Franco), is his long-estranged son. The other ninjas are voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Fred Armison, Abbi Jacobson, and Zach Woods. Obviously, the voice talent is a step up from the TV show, and it makes the film that much better, though if there’s a gripe to be made, it’s that you wish that each of them had more to do. Still, they make the dialogue zippy and engaging, with Nanjiani and Jacobson being the standouts, while Theroux and Franco are terrific playing off each other. The story goes through a series of increasingly nutty escapades, concluding with a battle against a giant real housecat named Meowthra that storms their cartoon world.
It’s fun. But don’t take my word for it. As part of this review, I also interviewed my son, Wee-K, for his take on it:
TK: So, what did we just see?
WK: The new Lego Ninjago movie
TK: And what did you think about it?
WK: I thought it was really cool, and it was really silly, and I really liked it and it was really cool.
TK: OK, so let’s pretend that the person who is going to read this doesn’t know anyting about Ninjago. Can you explain it to them?
WK: So Ninjago is a cartoon show about some ninjas, and their names are Kai, Zane, Nya, Cole and Lloyd, who’s the green ninja.
TK: And why do they have different colors?
WK: Because they have different elements. Zane has the element of ice, and he’s a robot.
TK: And they also look like Legos, right? Why is that?
WK: (confusedly)… because they’re Legos. And Lloyd is their leader and Sensei Wu is their teacher.
TK: So who’s the bad guy?
WK: The bad guy is Lord Garmadon, who wants to conquer Ninjago, which is the city they live in.
TK: So, what does Lord Garmadon use to conquer the city?
WK: A giant robot mech suit and DAD! IT SHOOTS SHARKS.
TK: I know! That was crazy right? And where does Garmadon live?
WK: In a volcano! And whenever his army does something he doesn’t like, he just hits a button and shoots them INTO THE SKY.
TK: So, what happens in the movie? What’s it about?
WK: Well…. um… there’s a really silly part, where Lloyd falls off a fence and his arm gets ripped off, and then his dad puts it back on and DAD! His dad is actually Lord Garmadon!
WK: Dad? I have a question.
TK: Sure Bugs.
WK: Who are we talking to?
TK: We’re talking to each other and I’m recording it, and later on I’m going to write it down so other people can read it.
WK: Ohhh. And then they can read it and if they like it they’ll see the movie?
TK: Bingo, buggo.
WK: Oh! OK, tell them it’s really good.
TK: You bet. OK, so what was your favorite part?
WK: It was… um… I thought that… the mech suits that the ninjas had were pretty cool. So Nya, the water ninja, has a water spider. And Zane’s was a giant snow treadery thingy. I don’t know what it’s called. But it had treads. And Lloyd’s was a giant dragon that had a head missile that could shoot its head as a missile. And all diffferent kinds of silly missiles like foot missiles and wing missiles. And then he was like “pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew!” And then… Cole’s is a giant mech suit on one wheel that rolls around. And there’s a really funny cat named Meowthra, who is summoned by a giant laser pointer.
TK: Right, because the laser pointer was their secret weapon, but all it did was summon a giant cat.
WK: And the cat was giant because the people were all really small, right?
WK: And my favorite part was when they summoned Meowthra. But also and when at the end when everyone was petting Meowthra.
TK: So how did they defeat Meowthra?
WK: They didn’t, Dad! They didn’t defeat her. They were kind to her and then everyone started petting her and then she was a good cat and they were friends with her instead. Which is better, right?
TK: Absolutely, pal. So, was this your favorite movie?
WK: Yes. No! Wait. It’s a tie between the Ninjago movie and Epic and Moana and Tangled and Sing.
TK: Wow. A five-way tie. OK. So would you say that other people should see this movie?
WK: Yes. Because it’s really good and I think a lot of people would like it and it’s really funny. The funniest part was when Lord Garmadon tried to replace Lloyd’s arm with a foot!
TK: Is there anything else you want to say about the movie?
WK: Uhh, one last thing: that I personally think that if you have a kid, or if you have a little kid, when they’re old enough you should take them to see it, because it’s a really good movie and I think a lot of kids will like it.
TK: Sounds good, bugs. OK, thanks for your help!
WK: You’re welcome! Thanks for taking me!
TK: You’re welcome.
WK: Can I have fruit snacks when I get home?
TK: No, but you can have fruit snacks after dinner.
WK: OK, it’s a deal.