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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lego Movie (2014) - Review

When I first read about the plans for turning the classic building blocks toy into a feature film I suffered flashbacks of other such attempts to convert kids toys into movies.  G.I. Joe, Battleship, Transformers 1, 2, 3…. I shudder.   Before I could finish reading the headline I had written it off as another ill-conceived money grab.  12 month later, I saw the film's first trailer.   Not only was it not off-putting, it looked, uh, good.  How could this be?  After about five minutes into the film, I got the answer to that question.  The reason the movies is not just another toy based feature film bust is, actual writing.  Unlike so many films before it, this film has something to say.  Actually, it has a lot to say - perhaps too much to say for just one viewing.  And although the story is nothing groundbreaking, the way it is told is.  The film is a not only a tolerable 90-minute surprise, it is much more.  It is a clever, smart and hilarious - even touching at times.  This satisfying romp may even play better to adults than to the kids that dragged them to go see it.

The story focuses on Emmitt, an average yellow, plastic joe, that goes to works, buys overpriced coffee and does what any good person is supposed to do, fit in.  In order to not make waves he follows the instructions he was provided.  Until one day he breaks away from the routine and unexpectedly ends up in the middle of a rebellion to stop the Lord Business who plans to use his ultimate weapon, Kragle to take control of the universe.  The Emmitt is determined to be The Special - the supreme master builder that will find a way to save everyone.  Unfortunately, Emmit knows he is nothing more than ordinary.

The story is somewhat formulaic, but the surrounding madness is fresh enough to compensate for that.  Like most films, to get the most of the film, it is better to come into it with as little knowledge as possible and experience it organically.  For this reason I will reveal as little as possible.  There are some surprises though out, never-ending sight gags and wonderful cameos.  Some of the said surprises add a satisfying fullness to the film, preventing it from wearing out its welcome.

As I write this, so many of the clever moments pop up in my head - they are numerous - and I would love to discuss them, but would rather you enjoy them for yourselves and discuss them in the comments section.  As I previously stated, the film will probably take several viewings to catch all the jokes and pointed satire crammed into the 90 minutes.   The film is certainly not without fault - when I say crammed, it is like a suitcase that you have to sit on to zipper and after you get it shut you realize you still need fit your deodorant inside.   What feels like effortless humor comes so fast and furiously that before you can finish enjoying one laugh the next one may have already passed.  That is not to say this is a film of loosely strung together jokes - it is not.  This is not rambling buts of humor - the jokes serve a purpose.  I just wish they had more time to breath.

If you need another reason to see the film, here are two.  1) the visuals - simply amazing.  It looks so photo realistic that you will believe it actually shot with real Legos (maybe it was.)  Just incredible.  2) The acting - a great cast including Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett and about a dozen more, bring with them great comic timing that ties it all together.

Oh yeah, be prepared to being singing "Everything is Awesome" for at least a few days.

If you have seen this, please feel free to list some of the funniest moments in the comments.

8 out of 10

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