I went into The LEGO Movie expecting to like it. I’m pretty much the ideal audience for it as I’m a guy who grew up on LEGOs, fell in love with them all over again through the LEGO video games and was really looking forward to this as a fun diversion. I was not in any way prepared for what I actually got: the most fun I’ve had in a movie in years and the best family film in recent memory. The LEGO Movie is smart, funny, relentlessly imaginative and utterly joyful.
Like the best films that appeal to audiences of all ages, TLM operates on a number of levels. There’s an extremely smart plot to the film operating on Orwellian themes and genere-bending quests, but it’s also just plain fun. The adults in the theater were enjoying this film as much if not more than their kids were. TLM takes full advantage of the number of licenses LEGO owns to bring in so many diverse characters from so many different worlds that you never know who is going to pop up next.
The main characters of the film, though, are wisely all new creations. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker in the utopian society of Bricksburg ruled by the not-so-subtly evil President Business (Will Ferrell in his best movie since Stranger Than Fiction). Emmet’s life is turned upside down when he runs into a “master builder” named Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who is searching for a secret relic that will be the key to President Business’ downfall. Emmet actually finds the relic, fulfilling the prophecy of “The Special” who will save all the LEGO lands from tyranny. Emmet and a band of eclectic followers set out on a journey that ends in a way so unique that I can’t ruin it for anyone.
TLM isn’t just occasionally funny, it’s pretty hysterical the entire film. It’s a love letter to toys, to play, to imagination and to fun. The animation style really pops in 3D and I’ve seen the film twice already in both two and three dimensions so I would actually recommend 3D because you’ve never seen animation like this. It really is as if an entire world based on the physics of LEGO bricks comes to life and it looks amazing. The one character cameo I can’t ruin since he’s featured in all the advertising is Batman (Will Arnett) who is a part of Emmet’s team for most of the film. In a film filled with hilarious vocal turns from a cast of all-star actors, Arnett does the best send up of Batman I think I’ve ever seen. You need to stay through the credits just to hear the full version of the song Batman writes for Wildstyle.
It’s hard for me to sum up in words the joy that this movie brought me. It was like a shot of pure joy and fun. Beyond that, the film is extremely witty, exceedingly smart, expertly paced and impeccably animated. There is nothing whatsoever negative that I can possibly say about it. 2014 delivers in less than six weeks a better film than all of 2013 could provide. Yes. It is that good.
PS – This is not only a Toy Story-level animation landmark, it’s also probably the best non-Nolan Batman movie I’ve ever seen.