4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
, 24 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Lego Movie [DVD]  (DVD)
This very amusing and imaginative film from the makers of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs absolutely delighted the children in our auditorium, to the point where one kid cried out, “This is the best film EVER!” I wouldn’t go that far, but in the afterglow of Pixar’s Golden Age, it’s definitely one of the better ones.
The plot concerns Emmet Brickowski, an everyman (voiced by Chris Pratt) – everyfigure? – thrust into the role of “Master Builder”, on a quest to vanquish the dastardly Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Business, president of Octan Corporation and the world, intends to glue everyone in their place. Emmet and his crew are out to stop him through the power of ideas – e.g. building and re-building stuff. It’s a modern American story, initially about individualism and entrepreneurism, and later about cooperation; sort of an anti-superhero film, with a light subversive streak.
The plot is fairly generic, but there are numerous surreal interludes throughout the film. Mostly these are enjoyable (I loved the visual allusion to 2001: A Space Odyssey), but there are certain ‘fourth wall’ scenes toward the end of the film that I found a bit sinister. I mean, obviously the film is an advert for Lego, but is there really a need to make the marketing so manipulative? The “Man Upstairs” scenes unashamedly employ soft-focus sentimentality to associate the product directly with parental love. Obviously young kids aren’t going to care much about the ideological use of marketing, but I think the otherwise perfectly laudable message of the film was enough without these overwrought scenes.
Now, back to the good stuff.
I don’t know what methods were used to create the look of The Lego Movie, and now I’ve seen it I don’t want to know. It may be all CG, but it has the look of stop-motion. It has a charming jerky grace which is unique in modern mainstream animation. The action scenes are frame-hoppingly chaotic, but I think this works nicely, capturing the way that children arrange their toys in tableaux (although they probably wouldn’t use the word “tableaux”).
In the main role, Pratt plays the part with dorky charm, while Ferrell channels his best Mugato as the villain. Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson are on rare loose form as Vitruvius and Bad Cop/Good Cop respectively. My personal favourite is Batman, played by Will Arnett as a bitter, self-absorbed bully.
Product tie-ins could well be the shape of things to come, and if they can always be this smart and funny then I say bring them on. Manufacturers have made toys based on films for decades. This time it’s simply being done the other way around – and it proves that the result needn’t be Transformers.
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