We had a relaxed schedule today, so after seeing THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014) we spontaneously decided to buy tickets to see THE LEGO MOVIE (2014).
It's fairly rare that I see a non-Disney animated film -- exceptions include ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) and RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (2012) -- but I was intrigued by the film's strong reviews. The Los Angeles Times, for example, called it "deliriously colorful... a massive collision of subversive humor, hyper-kinetic energy, mind-jangling design, spinning colors and about 15 million Legos..." And Slate called it "a clever, vivid, funny, oddly profound movie -- about plastic bricks...an insane sensory experience."
THE LEGO MOVIE was the second film this week, along with JOHNNY GUITAR (1954), which left me exclaiming "What the heck was that?!" at the end. And yet, like JOHNNY GUITAR, the film had amazing visual style and memorable sequences, and I was glad we'd decided to give it a try.
In a number of ways I found the film more creative -- and more wholesome -- than Disney's own WRECK-IT RALPH (2012), which was disappointingly crass in spots. THE LEGO MOVIE is quite amusing at times, but sticks to smart, well-thought-out humor which is clever enough to appeal to adults.
THE LEGO MOVIE tells the story of Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), a happy little construction worker who's the essence of conformity, always living by the directions on Lego boxes. He doesn't really have any close friends in his town of Bricksburg, but despite his humdrum existence he embraces the pop anthem of the day, "Everything is Awesome!" (This jingle is surprisingly hard to get out of one's head hours later.)
Emmet is happy to live by the strict societal rules enforced by President Business (Will Ferrell). There are distinct Orwellian overtones in Bricksburg, where cameras follow the workers' every move, directions come from TV screens, and, yes, "Everything is Awesome!" at all times.
It turns out there's a resistance movement led by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). Emmet is mistaken for the "Special," who will save Bricksburg, and his life is turned upside down and inside out, especially when he's attracted to a biker girl (Elizabeth Banks).
The movie takes an unexpected turn in the final quarter which stands the movie on its head and adds new layers of meaning, taking the movie to a "Wow, this is really interesting" level. Those who created the film did a very good job.
Among my favorite things in the film were Liam Neeson voicing a "good cop/bad cop" who changes personality with the spin of his head, and Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels voicing the Lando Calrissian and C-3P0 Legos. I loved the way the film includes the Lego versions of superheroes, such as Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), and the Green Lantern (Jonah Hill). I also got an especial kick out of sweet Unikitty (Alison Brie, better known as Trudy Campbell on MAD MEN), who has a darker side.
Though it incorporates plastic versions of some favorite movie characters and has echoes of numerous films of the past, including STAR WARS (1977) and TOY STORY (1995), THE LEGO MOVIE is fresh and original at a time when so many movies are simply recycling ideas which have been filmed time and again.
This 100-minute film was directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG. I don't even remember anything that should cause it to be more than a G rating; it's said to be for "mild action and rude humor."
There's a trailer at IMDb.