The Lego Movie (PG)

 


A nefarious dictator threatens to enforce his domination over the world and only one man can save the helpless inhabitants.

Batman? No, although he is part of the good guy crowd. Superman? Not a chance. The heroes from the “Star Wars” films? They are hardly capable of leading the way. How about a motorcycle enthusiast and revolutionary by the name of Wyldstyle? Her role involves protecting The Special—that is the chosen one’s title—from ill rather than heading the charge.

In the brilliant “The Lego Movie,” freedom depends upon a lowly construction worker named Emmet who is content with an orderly life. Like all the other Legos willing to get along under the system, he happily sings along with the hit song “Everything is Awesome.”

But the story’s bare outlines cannot explain the sheer joy created by watching “The Lego Movie.” It is child-like and subversive at the same time.

Writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller maintain a constant level of fun while throwing in enough sly humor and dated references to keep parents fully engaged and chuckling. Voice actors add flair to their characters. Instead of rampant product placement, there is a running commentary on the merits of following the rules when building with Legos and free-form creations. Instead of a stream of scatological humor, they stitch in social commentary on cookie-cutter corporate lives. And the production team use modern computer graphics to mimic the stilted Claymation effect you might expect from blocks of plastic set in motion.


Yet the film is hardly slow. Chase scenes, brawls, Wild West shenanigans and sight gags rip across the screen. Although the pace may seem dizzying and occasionally a little stressed, most of the time the editing is tight—paired perfectly to the scale of each joke.

Casting Will Ferrell as the snide dictator, President Business, adds a twisted edge.

Emmet’s predicament begins with a prophecy: The Special will be born “with a face of yellow.” Once spotted by the good guys, he becomes—reluctantly, and with a little verbal hazing—part of the revolution. Chris Pratt voices Emmet with a simple charm. Before fulfilling his mission, Emmet must elude the double-agent officer (Liam Neeson, in this case), intent on preserving the powers invested in President Business.

Along the way, in the wit, the wackiness, Wild West scenes, the manic action and all, adults become immersed in a film for kids. Like the famous toy it appeals to the creative side of all—those content to live within the rules and those who stray outside the box.


Yes, the end sags, as if packing the script with so much left the writer-director team worn and frayed. But “The Lego Movie” remains a film to be enjoyed, perhaps more than once.

 Starring (voices): Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman

 

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