REVIEW: The Lego Movie

31 07 2014

Back in 2012, “Zero Dark Thirty” gave audiences a pulse-pounding conclusions as it showed SEAL Team 6’s bold mission to kill Osama bin Laden in stunning detail.  Yet even as gripping as that was, I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit when I saw who they cast as the finger behind the trigger: Chris Pratt, who I knew and loved as Andy Dwyer (and his FBI alter ego Burt Macklin) on the TV comedy “Parks & Recreation.”

Well, as it turns out, Kathryn Bigelow was as right about Pratt as an action star as she was about Jeremy Renner as a fine dramatic actor.  And now it’s Pratt who’s laughing all the way to the bank.  “The Lego Movie” proves that Pratt doesn’t even have to be present in the flesh to lead a movie towards some very fun adventure.

Pratt is like the world’s oldest 7-year-old, a lovable, innocent kid that you can’t help but root for because he reminds you of all the naive optimism of a simpler state of mind.  When his plastic Lego teddy bear of a character, Emmet Brickowoski, chants the film’s theme “Everything Is Awesome,” it’s hard not to smile a little bit.  He’s not just singing from a place of pure naïveté like Selena Gomez on “Barney,” but also from a position of contagious optimism that makes Emmet quite irresistible.

Thankfully, the writing/directing dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (they who blessed us with the gift of “21 Jump Street“) matches Pratt’s enthusiasm throughout “The Lego Movie.”  They bring a boundless imagination to the project, resembling the kind of creativity that Legos themselves spark in children all over the world.  What they ultimately construct is wild, wacky, and quite inspired. Lego

If you wanted to analyze the film brick by brick, there are certainly some familiar pieces.  Lord and Miller build their narrative much like I built my Lego contraptions as a boy – by pulling whatever works from different sets until everything fits and the structure fulfills its intended purpose.  There’s a bit of “Kung Fu Panda” in the mix, some of the “SpongeBob Squarepants” movie, and maybe a little bit of the “Shrek” series for good measure in the tale of how Emmet fulfills a prophecy to save the world from evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell).

Even though we’ve seen various elements from “The Lego Movie,” it’s the way in which they’re assembled that makes the film such a delight to watch.  Lord and Miller create an ingenious universe for the Legos figures gallivanting.  The two are like the ultimate precocious children, resourcefully leveraging the fluid relationship between the human world and the Lego’s.

Remarkably, they manage to do all of this without obviously making “The Lego Movie” a feature-length commercial for the brand.  If you really take the time to think about it, you’ll realize that their sweet ending is both emotionally resonant and a perfect Lego value statement: connecting humans by connecting our bricks!  All those cameos, from Batman to Abraham Lincoln, that give the film such a pop also brilliantly advertise the variety of sets they have available.

Even though “The Lego Movie” may have dollar signs in its eyes, Lord and Miller have creativity on the brain and affection in their hearts.  If big-budget cinema has to continue its collapse into an excuse for merchandising, let’s hope studios bring on a creative staff with their earnestness.  B+3stars



One response

31 07 2014

Yeah, I had a blast with this one, too. It reminded me a lot of the animated-flicks I used to watch with my dad where they’d be both hilarious for me, as well as for him. For reasons I obviously didn’t understand until I watched the movies some odd years later and eventually got it. Good review Marshall.

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