As chaotic as it is clever and comedic, this gloriously absurd tale about the “highly sophisticated interlocking brick system” should be required watching for Michael Bay to see how movies about toys should be made.
It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while a film comes along that goes some way to make amends for the many wasted hours long-suffering cinemagoers spend sat in popcorn-encrusted multiplexes being force-fed creatively bankrupt Tinseltown trash.
For all intents and purposes The Lego Movie shouldn’t be that film. What should (read: normally) have happened is that it burst into cinemas and made a pot of cash before anyone realised it was rubbish. However, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller chose instead to take the road travelled most recently by Disney’s Frozen of making a well-written, funny and charming movie that appeals to young and old alike and attracts repeat viewings.
Lord and Miller’s previous animated flick, 2009’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, was weirdly anarchic in itself, but the crazy juice is in full flow here.
We all have something that makes us something, but construction worker Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) is the definition of ordinary. That is until he inadvertently stumbles across The Piece of Resistance which, according to the prophecy set down by wonky wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), makes him The Special; the person capable of stopping the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from using a superweapon called the Kragle to freeze the world and preserve perfect order.
Emmet suddenly finds himself in a strange new world and is helped on his quest by the feisty Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), her boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett) and an army of Master Builders, recognisable from the world of comic books, movies and real life. However, they must all contend with Business and his relentless right clawed man Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).
The chaos of The Lego Movie is, aptly enough, exactly why the film works. As the makers of Minecraft would no doubt agree, the beauty of Lego is that it can be anything its builder wants it to be; whether that be an elaborately designed world (Bricksburg), a free-for-all (as depicted in the movie by the visually bonkers Cloud Cuckoo Land), a pirate ship, or simply two blocks randomly stuck together (the height of my Lego creativity as a youngster).
Taking Toy Story and The Matrix as building blocks, Lord and Miller’s knowing and subversive script weaves in everything from the unhealthy ties between politics and big business to cultural dumbing down (the TV show Where’s My Pants?), overpriced coffee, good old-fashioned satire and plenty of jokes.
By way of example, there’s the throwaway parody of Batman via the lyrics of a self-penned song he plays through the Batmobile’s new subwoofers: “Darkness… No parents… More darkness… Get it?… The opposite of light… Super rich… Kinda makes it better.”
To achieve this level of chaos without the film imploding in on itself takes some doing, while the animation itself is ingeniously rendered. Even water is fashioned from Lego blocks and somehow fits in with everything else that’s happening on screen.
The film also deftly underscores the cross-generational appeal of Lego and the different outlook that kids have (build whatever, deconstruct and start again) and adults (build something elaborate, stick it together with glue, remove the fun out of it) have when it comes to the little blocks.
As cunningly catchy as the signature awesome tune that plays throughout, The Lego Movie is that rarest of Hollywood gifts – a genuine and delightful surprise.