Directed by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring: Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Berry, Alison Brie, Will Farrell, will forte
The Lego Movie is part of a new style of animated filmmaking that was started by Pixar with the Toy Story franchise and continued with Wreck-it-Ralph. These films are still made for kids but they definitely have a bend toward adults and could arguably be for adults first. The one thing that’s consistent between the Toy Story films, Wreck-it-Ralph, and The Lego Movie is nostalgia for childhood things. We’re either remembering our love of childhood toys, videogames, or a specific toy; Legos.
It’s kind of amazing that a toy that could have faded into obscurity has not only reinvented itself but made an all new impact on pop culture. It’s not clear how many fans are actually buying the good ol’ Legos but fans are eating up the videogames, animated TV/DVD specials, and now the film. Across the board these new additions to the Lego franchise have been humorous and clever and addictive. This new movie takes everything that has been successfully executed so far and ramped it up. This film is funny and gorgeous to look at but it also surprisingly takes a truly emotional turn in the last act.
The biggest weakness of this film is that for the first two thirds of the film the story feels so amateur and nonsensical you wonder why you are watching the film but then something hilarious happens and you get wrapped up in the humor and beauty of the animation. Will Arnett as Lego Batman is utilized perfectly in this film and not nearly as much as the trailers would lead you to believe. The minimal use of Batman is a really good thing; he’s not the star of the film after all. Just when you need a good laugh Batman pops out of nowhere to give up the goods. There are so many other smaller but fantastic cameos in this film you’re likely to miss some of them on your first viewing, another thing this film has in common with Wreck-it-Ralph. The entire ensemble cast is great here and each of them gets a moment to shine. Will Farrell and Elizabeth Banks are true standouts though.
The Lego Movie is a near perfect example of a modern animated film; it offers tons of laughs, beautiful and completely unique visuals, and a strong heartfelt message. The big weaknesses of the film are its somewhat soft plot line (which does make sense by the end of the film) and its strong reliance on current pop culture. In ten years this film isn’t likely to be as funny as it is now, similar to something like the Shrek films. Even if a lot of the humor isn’t evergreen if you see it now you’ll love it. There are more laughs in this movie than in the last five comedies in theaters combined. Add to it a really emotional twist and stunning visuals and you get one of the best films of the year already and it’s only February.