***MASSIVE SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN****
There must have been some kind of uncle achievement unlocked as my Nephew (a massive Lego geek) sat beside me in a fever state absorbing this sensory catnip that is The Lego Movie. However, despite it's built in vox pop track "Everything Is Awesome" giving you a resounding catch cry as a recommendation, let's not pave all the roads with yellow bricks just yet.
With Lord Business (Will Ferrell) possessing a potential world ending evil — "The Kragle," the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) has a vision that one lone saviour has the power to stop him. Enter the painfully ordinary Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) and Elizabeth Banks' master building Wyldstyle who must help him fulfil his destiny.
Bricks of all shapes and sizes form every conceivable element, and you can't help but bust a grin. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and their Animal Logic special effects team should be commended for the detailed visuals and manipulation of the odd physics of the Lego Universe. There's a clarity to the dismantling and rebuilding mass of creativity. Even in the most frenetic moments that the master builders are bending this universe to their will you see every brick crisply transition unlike the blurred mess of CGI metal ala the Transformers.
There's kind of a perverse genius to The Lego Movie's seemingly anti Lego (the product) philosophy. Story writers Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and later Lord & Miller (who penned the screenplay) poke fun at first world life and the conformist impulse. The normal every day middle Lego working class rally against corporate greed and adhering to the prescribed generic instructions. It finds that balance between being totally true, and yet fundamentally antithetical to the brand.
The showcase of vocal talent bring these barely articulating chunks of plastic to vibrant life. Freeman's professorial wizard Vitruvius plays up his reputation for all things narration and God (thanks to Bruce Almighty). Charlie Day's overexcited spaceman is as jittery for building spaceships as the kids in the audience will undoubtedly be walking past any Lego toy displays in the wake of the film. Ferrell is overtly evil as Lord Business. Liam Neeson gets to play a dual Bad Cop/Good Cop and his gleefully sweet, 'soft side' will make you giddy imagining what he must have looked like behind the studio microphone. Keep an ear out for Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill briefly popping in as Superman and Green Lantern respectively; their banter is unforgettable.
Will Arnett as Batman is just sensational. There's a perfect sincere darkness to his style and voice, and Lord and Miller are brutally candid crafting jokes around the laughable elements of the character. Give us ten more movies with this Lego Batman.
***ONCE AGAIN – YOU”VE BEEN WARNED TWICE NOW****
The moral, because it's ultimately a kids film, hits you like a tonne of real bricks, not tiny yellow bricks. Instead of this intangible and fantastical Lego world existing alongside our own, you’re hit with the revelation that this is all occurring in a child’s imagination. The boy, playing with his father’s Lego in secret is reeling against the pristine order of decades of precisely put together pieces in their predestined statures – irrevocably static after being painted with ‘Krazy Glue’ or KRAGLE. This may as well have been a real life person popping their head in from left of frame screeching “MESSAGE” ala Keenan Ivory Wayans in Don’t Be a Menace … This jarring wake up from the awesome Lego world and fundamentally alienated this reviewer from everything that occurred previously. For those still experiencing PTSD from the Wizard’s reveal in The Wizard of Oz this is like being back in the Emerald City all over again.
The Lego Movie is aesthetically phosphorus, filled with deft comedic subversion and riddled with great vocal performances; that is until it makes us pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
[rating=3] and half stars
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller Written by: Dan Hageman (story) & Kevin Hageman (story) and Phil Lord (story/screenplay) & Christopher Miller (story/screenplay) Starring: Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Berry, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Liam Neeson, Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum