Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell
Genre: Animation/ Comedy/ Family
Emmet Brickowski (Pratt) is a normal construction worker in the city of Bricksburg who always following the rules and instruction manuals like everyone else as he goes about his daily routine. A chance encounter with Wyldstyle (Banks) leads to Emmet being mistaken as ‘The Special’, a special master builder that will fulfil a prophecy and stop the plans of the evil Lord Business (Ferrell) who plans to destroy the Lego worlds with a mysterious weapon known as ‘the kragle’. In his one and only chance to prove that he actually is somebody, Emmet joins with Wyldstyle and a host of random Lego figures to stop Lord Business’ evil plans and must find the courage and belief to prove to them and himself that he can perhaps be The Special, or at least a half decent version.
The mere concept is a dream come true for many, in particular those of my age, and it does seem like a proper stop-motion Lego movie is well overdue. But then this is a company that took its time in adapting to the demands of the 21st Century and nearly went bust in the process, unbelievable as it is that a company of such magnitude could do so, but due to some extreme complacency it nearly did. Video games, film tie-in Lego sets and CGI films or series of their Bionicle and Chima ranges, Star Wars and Clutch Powers (oh dear), have helped reinvent the brand and finally, here we have a film where it is actually made out of real Lego. Yes there is the occasional CGI, but it never detracts from the visual spectacle in a set that I know I dreamed of being able to build as a child. Even the sea and dust clouds are made from Lego! Of course for a feature length cinematic outing it does need more than that if it can keep the novelty going for 100 minutes.
Well thankfully, the team behind the bonkers but very enjoyable Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs have essentially utilised with the film’s narrative the strengths of Lego as a toy: Endless possibilities that often entails complete randomness. The actual plot construction itself is a very basic model, with the usual themes of a nobody wanting to prove he is actually somebody but needing to first believe in himself blah, blah, blah. This being a family film, expect lots of cheese and clichés, especially in the final third where it does risk overdoing it, as well as there never being a true sense of peril as they are just made out of Lego. However a great visual gag or action set piece is never far away keeping the films energy and comedy levels consistently high.
As I said, with Lego the possibilities of total randomness are endless, and the Meatballs team certainly utilise this. Famous figures, both historical and fictional turn up at various points for great comic effect that is never overdone and plenty of film genres and specific films get mocked too. The film is more than happy to mock its own generic plot, certainly making it more forgivable. Admittedly some of the banter between characters and subtle jokes to other films may be lost on a younger audience, but this just means there is plenty to enjoy for audiences of all ages.
The voice cast that has been assembled are also on top form, only adding to the fun. Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell are essentially themselves in Lego form, but are perfectly suited to the film, while Liam Neeson as the chair kicking Bad Cop with a rotating head that sometimes turns him into Good Cop is a real treat. The supporting cast of essentially current American sitcom actors also do excellent work, with Will Arnett’s Batman very good fun and he gets a vast majority of the funniest lines. Charlie Day even manages to not be annoying and his unique vocal chords are perfectly suited to the hyperactive 1970s space man with a broken helmet who simply wants to build a very bland space ship. While the great comic lines and often very silly and sometimes very random plot developments keep the energy at a consistently very high level, visually there is so much going on that the 100 minute running time simply flies by.
What could have easily been a disaster is surely set to be one of 2014’s most enjoyable films that can be enjoyed by all generations. The Lego Movie utilises the Danish toy’s own specific qualities to create a film that is visually alive and frantically funny, expect sequels.