"The LEGO® Movie" Review

Title: The LEGO® Movie
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Genre(s): Comedy
Rated: PG (For mild action and rude humor)

Forget the Super Bowl: the best commercial you're going to see is not a thirty second spot you can see on TV for free, but one that is the length of a full blown motion picture that you'll have to pay to see (in 3D for an extra fee)! For years I've been telling people that a critic is essentially reviewing two different kinds of films these days: movies and consumer products. Now comes “The LEGO® Movie” to challenge the whole concept that these two things are incompatible with each other. What directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) have created here is nothing short of a pure triumph. They've directed not only the best family film of the year (so far; the years still early), but they've also delivered the funniest film the theaters have received since “At World's End” came out last year. Oh, and yes, this movie will sell lots of toys.

When the movie opens we are immediately brought into a world that is made of nothing but LEGO's®. You have LEGO® buildings, LEGO® clouds, there's even LEGO® smoke that arises when toy fire flames burst out all of a sudden (and LEGO® water for the characters to jump in to escape said flames)! Our hero in the film is Emmet (Chris Pratt), a construction builder who lives every day by the instruction manual. He watches TV the manual tells him to watch, follows step by step instructions on how to live a better life (numbered for kids of course), and even goes to work singing “Everything is Awesome” in perfect sync with all the other LEGO's® out there! He doesn't think much about his life until a strange red brick gets stuck on his back and a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) revels him to be a “Master Builder,” someone a prophecy foretold would come to save them from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a politician who encourages building everything by the manual.

In a story that is much smarter than it really needed to be, Emmet teams up with Vitruvius, a girl named Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and her boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), who gets more screen time than other famous LEGO® characters because - I suspect - he is film distributor Warner Bros. most profitable character at the moment. The goal of these characters is to take down Lord Businessman because he doesn't like the fact that there are LEGO's® out there that don't want to simply build things the way they are in the instruction manuals. No, these LEGO's® want to be able to make anything they want with every piece they can get together. In several chase scenes we see these characters grab LEGO® pieces off the ground and off buildings to create new vehicles and weapons to use at a moment's notice.

Speaking of weapons, when guns are fired little red LEGO® sticks fly all over the place. There is nothing in this film that isn't created with LEGO's®. Obviously this makes you want to play with these toys throughout the film, but it's also a great visualization of every kids LEGO® fantasies. I remember when I played with LEGO's® years ago and just built one crazy thing after another. When I played with those toys all I could see was my little LEGO® world all carefully instructed and running wild. This movie more or less captured what I saw LEGO's® to be when I played with them, and I suspect this is how a lot of other people who played with LEGO's® as kids will remember visualizing their LEGO® worlds as well. Not only does the world look great, but it moves perfectly too.

I'm not sure if “The LEGO® Movie” was made with computer animation or stop motion, but one thing is very clear: the directors have a deep love for how these toys are supposed to work. All of the pieces work the way real LEGO's® would work if you were playing with them in real life, and the jerky movements at times just add a visual charm that is undeniable. This is easily one of the best looking animated films I've seen. It raises the bar for just how clever animation can be used to tell a story with, and the look of this film could have been all wrong if not done right. Look, I know this is high praise for a movie that exists essentially to sell toys.

Movies like this are usually pretty easy to despise because the last thing you want to do is pay to see something that is shilling out a product for you to purchase later on. “The LEGO® Movie” is one of those rare movies that just works on every level despite the reason it was green lit in the first place. The screenplay is much better than a project like this deserves to have, but it goes to show that you can make anything great if you have a love for what you are doing. I know this movie is going to be a big hit with kids and families, but don't be too surprised if this catches on with the teenage and adult audience as well. Come Valentine's Day if you are looking for a movie both the guy and the girl can watch together, then “The LEGO® Movie” is it. I never thought I'd say that about a movie that has a ® symbol in its title, but there you have it.


Parents, there is some action. Recommended for ages 5 and up.