When the Lego Movie was first announced, the general reaction, including my own, was one of an un-surprised shrug and a pretty good idea that it would be of a straight-to-DVD quality. What was instead delivered by the wonderful pairing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who also delivered a big hit with the zero-expectation 22 Jump Street) was one of the most imaginative, hilarious and all-round wonderful films I’ve seen. Not only is it far, far better than a toy-based film has any right to be, it is a genuine joy of a movie for every age. Using the boundless creativity allowed by the Lego blocks in real life, this is a consistently entertaining exercise in how to treat a license.
The basic premise isn’t exactly a remarkable one, with an ordinary guy in the form of rule-following construction worker Emmet (voiced with effortless charm by Chris Pratt) stumbling into a grand adventure where it transpires that he may just be the chosen one who has to stop the plans of the nefarious ruler (Will Ferrell’s Lord Business). In his journey, guided by Elizabeth Banks’s Wyldstyle and a fantastic cast of supporting players making full use of Lego’s enormous range of licenses, he travels through a variety of wildly different environments, each inspired by a separate Lego set. A city becomes the Wild West, which segues into the childishly manic ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ before taking to the high seas (probably the visual highlight of the entire film, with the Lego waves – everything but the sky is built from Lego bricks – looking absolutely astonishing). This doesn’t cover all the film’s locales, but should give a good idea of the variety of what you see as the story progresses.
The brilliance of the visuals extend to the sight gags, of which there are so many that it will no doubt take many viewings to catch them all, and just when it threatens to become too chaotic, everything will slow down or, as the film approaches its end, will be thrown for a loop in a genuinely touching sequence that nicely relays the very positive message that kids should never feel that they have to repress their own creativity. The directorial work is excellent, and even though, on paper, 100 minutes seems a bit gratuitous for a kids film of this nature, everything zips along at a good pace, never letting the audience get bored.
It may now seem like I am neglecting the humour, having given it credit in the introduction, but that is only for the reason that if I had started with the dialogue, I may have ended up turning this review into a document consisting solely of quotes I found funny. The Lego Movie is unbelievably funny, and I really can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard and as consistently in a cinema as I did whilst watching this. The gags are very much in the ‘throw everything and see what what sticks’ tradition, but a really high majority does stick, even, maybe especially, for those older than the target demographic. Every scene contains at least one proper laugh-out-loud moment, and there were three absolutely killer jokes that nearly knocked me out of my chair. Every voice actor, including the many, many cameo appearances, is on fine form, from Pratt as Emmet to Charlie Day as Benny the 1980s Space Guy to Morgan Freeman being funnier than he’s ever been before. In fact, it would be just as easy to turn this review into a list of the characters I like (Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop is also wonderful) as it would to just quote my favourite lines. Suffice to say, if this isn’t the funniest film of the year, then 2014 will have been very good for comedy.
Overall, The Lego Movie is so enjoyable that it is actively difficult to write a review of it. Its few flaws are so easy to overlook and the whole thing is so riotously entertaining that it feels like I’m writing a press release more than anything critical. However, this is just further proof of its quality for all ages, never patronising the children in the audience but also never resorting to unsubtle crudeness for the adults as so many of these films do. Charming, hilarious, visually mind-blowing and all tied together by a lovely ending, it is a magical film that I can’t recommend enough.
Written and Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Starring; Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks
Runtime: 100 mins