If You Like to Laugh, You'll Like "The LEGO Movie"
Warner Brothers has been a major player in Hollywood longer than most of us have been alive. It has the "The Hobbit" and "Harry Potter" franchises, just to barely scratch the surface, and that ain't bad. Basically, Warner Brothers is Hollywood, at least in the live-action realm. One area that Warner Brothers has never really conquered, though, is animation. That fact is all the more surprising because some of its widely separated forays into the field - "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964) and "The Iron Giant" (1999) among them - are fondly remembered by many people and became cult classics.
"The LEGO Movie" (2014), directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (both of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" fame) and written by them along with Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman, aims to change Warner Brothers' outsider status. If "The LEGO Movie" only becomes a guilty pleasure for animation comedy junkies like Don Knotts as a wimp turned fish in "Limpet," it will be devastating for all concerned. "The LEGO Movie" aims high, not just for high box office receipts, but for the creation of a franchise. And, in Hollywood right now, there is nothing more powerful than a successful franchise. Nothing.
The plot of "The LEGO Movie" is hardly Shakespearean, and it helps a great deal if you already are familiar with LEGOs and their different attributes (the official name of the film is "The LEGO® Movie" for obvious reasons, which tells you everything you need to know right there). Emmet is an ordinary mini-figure who is mistaken for being someone of great importance (think Danny Kaye as "The Inspector General" (1949)). This big, important guy is "The Special," a Master Builder who is the hope and salvation of the LEGO universe.
Emmet, naturally, goes along with this, but there are people who don't want The Master Builder to succeed. Oh, no! Lord Business essentially runs LEGOland and naturally doesn't like the idea of being pushed aside by some random messiah. He becomes Emmet's arch-enemy and uses all of his powers as President of the Octan Corporation to get rid of the pretender to the throne.
Lord Business hatches an evil plot (is there really any other kind?) to destroy LEGOland on Taco Tuesday and rebuild it in his image. In fact, he intends to glue it together! Naturally, this cannot be allowed to happen. Emmet teams up with several friends (naturally) to battle Lord Business and put him in his place.
Emmet's friends are a helpful old wizard named
To say anything further would give away what little plot is left. You will notice that I used the word "naturally" about half a dozen times. That was no accident - the script is horrendously un-original (come on ... "The LEGO Movie"??), right down to the truly wretched device of making the bad guy a capitalist type. What, there weren't any evil wizards available? My point is that this is entertainment for children through and through, and anyone above the age of 12 is likely to start yawning halfway through unless they really, really, really like LEGOs or just like mindless entertainment. They also rather self-consciously load "The LEGO Movie" with jokes for adults, which should broaden the appeal. Since everyone loves to laugh (including me), "The LEGO Movie" is going to attract viewers by the bus-load.
Warner Brothers hired Australian studio Animal Logic to do the animation, and they indeed do a fine job. It is bright and fast-paced, with lots of little flourishes to keep everyone focused. It certainly works as a comedy, even though all along you realize that this entire endeavour is nothing but a megabucks advertisement for a children's toy. It is "self-knowing" in its attitude, like every other film that is devoid of an original plot. "The LEGO Movie" is one of those comedies that "deconstructs" superheroes, which hardly seems necessary but is a theme returned to again and again and again by Hollywood (think "Megamind").
The soundtrack is good but not exactly "A Chorus Line." It is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh of "Meatballs" fame and nicely accompanies the frenetic action. About the marketing - do you really need to know? - there of course are the usual product tie-ins and video games and themed events and posters and, yes, LEGOs.
Will Ferrell (um, speaking of "Megamind"...) dominates exactly as you would expect as Lord Business, while Chris Pratt voices the nominal lead role of Emmet. Along for the ride are Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, Will Arnett as Batman, and Nick Offerman as Metalbeard. They all do a fine job in breathing life into their toy characters, along with the occasional cameo by the likes of President Lincoln.
The bottom line is that "The LEGO Movie" is exactly what you would expect it to be. It is flashy, noisy, full of construction and deconstruction, and follows the same old "good group versus the bad guy" theme of practically every animation film ever made. That always works wonders (it sure got the "Shrek" franchise moving), and works wonders here, too. Just don't expect too many surprises or deep insights into, you know, the human condition and man's battle against the vicissitudes of the Cosmos and his own self-contradictions or anything like that. It's a movie about toys!
|This is what it's all about|
"The LEGO Movie" is absolutely positively assured of being a huge hit at the box office and theme parks and everywhere else. Below is the trailer for "The LEGO Movie."