Sunday, February 16, 2014

"The Lego Movie" Stacks Up Quite Nicely

                The inner seven-year-old has been awakened by Warner Brother’s latest animated picture, “The Lego Movie.”  Delightful and funny, it has appealed to everyone, from little kids to their parents taking them.  Even college students have been raving about this film.  Its humor is obvious, as not one line is wasted.  The childish aspects of it are what make it so good.  Why not take such a well-known toy and turn it into a film?  Companies have tried to do this in the past (the Barbie movies, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc.) but no one pulled it off quite as successfully as this motion picture. 

                Already grossing $130 million (and counting), it’s fair to say “The Lego Movie” is well deserving of its praise and critical acclaim.  Based on the Lego Construction Toys, this film is nothing to toy around with. 

                Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) follows his instruction guide to life as he gets by day by day in his Lego World.  Mistook by WyldStyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) to be the Master Builder, Emmet is thrown into an adventure of a lifetime.  Wyldstyle takes him to Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to train him to defeat evil Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell).  Seriously, this cast is amazing, and they are all voicing Lego pieces.  Lord Business plans on freezing the Lego pieces and taking complete control over them.  As nefarious as his scheme is, the way he goes about it very silly.  Other actors and actresses who lent their voices to this film include Jonah Hill, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Channing Tatum.

                With his Lego companions, Emmet and his band of misfits travel through various Lego play sets and work to defeat Lord Business.  And it works.  It really does; the idea of a Lego movie may seem silly.  And it is, in every way possible. 

                The animation is incredible, as everything is CGI composed entirely out of Legos.  From the characters and buildings to the explosions and water rushing from place to place, everything is like a gigantic Lego play set before your eyes.  I can proudly say that I grew up playing the Lego videogames, and the animation here is much more sophisticated.  The bricks and pieces onscreen felt so real.  I wanted to go home and search through my old toys and find some Lego sets to build.

                The script is lighthearted and fun. It references other toy products that are inferior to Lego and its success, along with brings different Lego sets and characters into play.  The humor is aimed for kids, but it’s clever and keeps moving.  The vocabulary suits a young audience, but the jokes that go over kids’ heads and find their way to adults in the audience are blissful, and remind us that comedy need not always be sex jokes and endless profanity.  Growing up playing with Lego sets and the Lego videogames, this was a great way to see our beloved toys in action.  I laughed the entire way through, as some of the jokes were expected.  A good portion of the humor caught me off-guard, but I’m not complaining.  I was pleasantly surprised. 

Batman and other superheroes made it into the film, along with Abe Lincoln and Dumbledore, along with some new characters that will be part of the new play sets Lego is producing and selling.  Nonetheless, everyone is lovable (even the villains). 

                Despite the “1984” vibe it gives (as big brother is watching us in the form of Will Ferrell, being a part of the system), the message of believing in yourself is a great one for kids.  And it goes about it in a creative way. 

                “The Lego Movie” had been in development stages since 2008.  Marketing for this film was extremely extensive, and successful.  The first trailer I saw was July of 2013, more than six months before the film’s premiere.  There are seventeen building play sets based on the film scenes available to purchase.  At the Lego stores, customers received a movie poster with their purchases in the month of January with characters from the film as a promotion.  A video game for essentially every console was also released based on the movie. 

                And does the fun end there? Nope! On February 3, Jared Stern (who wrote other animated films like “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Bolt”) was hired to write a sequel to “The Lego Movie.”  Despite the fact that there was some closure at the end, there is definitely room for a sequel.  With any luck, it will be just as silly and fun as its predecessor. 

                Overall, “The Lego Movie” is a delightful romp through your childhood play sets.  Colorful and action-packed, it keeps you captivated for its duration, wide-eyed and laughing the whole way through.  

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