Thursday, February 6, 2014

Movie Review: The Lego Movie


Genre: Comedy
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

Like many people, I was skeptical when I first heard the idea of a movie based on the Danish toy brand. Do I really want to spend two hours watching mini-figures with stubby limbs and molded toupees run around a brick city? And what’s next? An IKEA movie? The Starbucks trilogy?

Boy was I wrong.

The Lego Movie by Phil Lord and Chris Miller


The Lego Movie is fast-paced, action-packed, clever and, above all, hilarious. Dynamic duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, best known for the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie, return with a classic quest story of an ordinary Lego man who goes from zero to hero. The protagonist is a simple-minded construction worker -- an apt profession given the basis of the film -- who is chosen to stop an Orwellian villain from destroying the universe. He is Frodo Baggins without the hairy feet and Dorothy Gale with a self-deprecating sense of humor. But don’t expect The Lego Movie to be a wholesome family treat like Toy Story. It’s more like South Park and Ted: irreverent and snarky with a tiny pinch of underlying sweetness.

All the action in the movie is computer-generated to simulate old-fashioned stop-motion. All the acting, on the other hand, is done by the emoticon facial expressions painted on plastic faces. That makes the voices behind them all the more important. The task falls on Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games), Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman, all of whom pull it off with flying colors. Punch lines are delivered at such speed and frequency – and there is so much action going on at any given time – that you are bound to miss something on the first viewing. The film requires both a pause and a rewind button to be truly appreciated.

The geniuses behind it


Also worth mentioning is the theme song "Everything is Awesome," performed by Canadian indie rock group Tegan and Sara. The pop-rap number with a positive message is destined to be the next self-empowerment anthem and a serious contender for the best song title at the Oscars. The catchy tune will be ringing in your head and have you humming the same few notes for the rest of the night.

Like many people, I spent my childhood building houses and trucks with brightly colored toy bricks. Lego-lovers like myself know the eternal struggle between sticking to the instruction manual and going off on our own – by, for instance, mixing a castle-themed set with a spaceship kit. Now that we are grown men and women, we realize that the same dilemma of coloring inside or outside the lines exists well beyond the playroom. Like building things with interlocking bricks, there is no one correct way to live our lives -- a lesson that directors Lord and Miller astutely pick up on and build a coherent story around. The Lego Movie is much more than a homage to a popular toy or a satire about our consumer culture. It is a celebration of ideas (however silly), imagination (however wild) and the courage to be different (however out-of-place that makes us feel). After all, nothing is impossible and everything is awesome. 

Follow other people's rules or your own whims?

5 comments:

  1. Nice! we plan to watch this weekend; love the song too!

    Nancy

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  2. We will go see it, based on your positive review!

    Alan

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  3. WOW! 5 stars!!

    Sheta

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  4. Do I need to rethink watching it with my 5 year old? But then again it's not like she hasn't watched the Family Guy... (I swear she has only seen like 2 episodes).

    Grace

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  5. Went to see the Lego movie with the kids tonight - very good. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Shawn

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