I know I typically reserve this column for horror and sci-fi, but every so often a fantasy film finds its way into my neck of the woods. Now, fantasy is technically described as films where magic and dragons and people in vaguely medieval/renaissance costuming dueling it out. But sometimes, fantasies aren’t about traversing a majestic landscape on an epic quest. Some fantasies are about the people who dream them up.
Let’s take a look at The LEGO Movie.
The film takes place in the world of LEGOs, where a construction worker named Emmet is a bland, overly happy construction worker who finds the magical object (the Piece of Resistance) stuck to his back. A woman named WyldStyle tells Emmet that he is the Special and therefore has to stop Lord Business from freezing everyone into place in the name of order. There’s a lot more of the lore and action, but even the plot overall is ultimately less of a factor than one would suspect. Really, the entire movie is one big parody of every single question movie. The prophecy, the special item, the chosen one are the same tropes you see in any big blockbuster quest film.
The issue with this movie is, of course, driving the line behind parody and sincerity. For example, WyldStyle is treated like the typical singular girl character who is empowered but still treated like an object in different ways. So when Batman gives her away to Emmet at the end, is that a parody of the crappy trope or is it genuinely bad writing for a female character? Someone is dreaming this story up, there’s a level of sincerity to the narrative, but how far does it go? Still, it’s not something that’s too distracting really — it’s not too meta to give you a headache or just enough to be wink to the audience.
The voice acting is pretty phenomenal. Chris Pratt as the adorable and naive Emmet and Elizabeth Banks as hotshot WyldStyle are both excellent as our protagonists. However, the three who steal the show are Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop, Morgan Freeman as the wizard Vitruvius, and Will Arnett as Batman. All three are perfectly cast and hilarious in their own way. Special note should be made of Charlie Day as Benny and Will Ferrell as Lord Business, though really, both of those guys are basically living versions of LEGOs already.
One of the best aspect of its comedy. This is a genuinely funny movie, with jokes ranging from pop culture quips to one-word-cracks that only get funnier as the character shouts enthusiastically. This movie makes most people laugh out loud, both from having seen it in the theater and having talked to other people about it. If you enjoy having a good laugh, this is the one for you, but it also has a sentimental side to it that some people don’t like. Still, the comedy is about 90% of the film, so don’t worry too much about the heartwarming stuff if you’re not into it.
The CG animation is actually pretty stunning. There’s a great physical look to the LEGO people, as though the film were made of stop motion. There’s a lot energy to what are supposed to be plastic, limited-motion toys. The facial expressions are also great for plastic figures, and they use the bodies in creative and imaginative ways. There’s lots of bright colors, catchy music, and good pacing of the plot.
Ultimately, The LEGO Movie is good at what it does, and that is making people laugh. Does it have some faults? Sure, but a movie is rarely perfect, especially when they are comedies. Still, its one of the most impressive animated films or comedies I’ve seen in a long time, and I think that’s pretty…awesome.
– Incredibly funny.
– Great acting.
– Great animation.
– Strong writing.
– Line of parody is blurred.