Lego. Arguably the best toy in the known universe. Enjoyed by millions of kids (and adults) it’s something that is instantly recognisable and immediately accessible. A movie based on Lego though? Surely that’ll just be a cash-in on the brand’s immense popularity? Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth as directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller take the very essence of what Lego is and boost it up to 90 minutes of fun.
Emmett (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a construction worker, who happily goes about his day, living his life by the instructions laid out for him. He likes everything he’s supposed to like – including a pop tune ‘Everything is Awesome’ which believe me will get stuck in your head, and a TV show called ‘Where Are My Pants?’ – and does everything he supposed to do until one night he learns of the prophecy that names him as ‘The Special,’ a figure who will end the evil schemes of Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) once and for all. Rescued from his clutches by WyldStyle and Vitruvius (Elizabeth Banks and Morgan Freeman), Emmett goes on a journey of discovery to see if he really is ‘The Special.’
It’s basically The Matrix with Lego figures, but when a film is this consistently entertaining and constantly funny you can forgive a rather well-trodden story. Bursting at the seams with creativity, filled with more colour and vibrancy than most animated movies put together and containing more jokes than your average live-action comedy it’s a triumph on every level. Filled with dozens of fun cameos from Lego’s various franchises, including but not limited to Gandalf, Milhouse, Abraham Lincoln, Superman as well as a few that I shan’t spoil here, with the standout being an excellent turn from Will Arnett as Lego Batman who gets all the best lines.
It zips along at such a pace that you’re never left bored for any great stretch of time, it is knowing enough to make fun of itself (the wide shots especially, as well as a few digs at Lego sets of, shall we say, less successful movies) and it takes a big gamble as it hurtles towards the ending with a scene that threatens to derail the entire film but ends up turning it into the film’s biggest win as it brings everything back to what the essence of Lego is. A toy to be played with.
The voice actors, and there are a lot of them, are all superb with Chris Pratt’s eternally optimistic Emmett a joy to watch, Morgan Freeman basically playing a quintessential Morgan Freeman type character and Liam Neeson’s head turning Good Cop/Bad Cop, a joke the film gets waaaaaay more mileage out of than you’d think. In fact, only Elizabeth Banks seems out of place with a character and performance that’s fairly bland and one note. Yet still funny.
It also isn’t just a kids film with a few wink wink nudge nudge jokes thrown in there to appease the adults; it’s an out and out family film with jokes that are well written and don’t just play for the kiddies in the audience with dumb laughs and constant slapstick. Although obviously, there’s still a lot of dumb laughs and slapstick. If there’s a scene this year that’ll make me laugh more than Bad Cop angrily kicking a chair around, I’ll eat my clip on hat.
A film that embraces creativity as much as it celebrates it, and even if at times it feels a little slapdash and chaotic it more than makes up for it with laughs and heart.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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