Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Written by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman and more
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett and more
Even the simplest things can be transformed into something amazing.
That's the magic of both Legos and "The Lego Movie," the new animated tour-de-force that more fully captures the power of imagination than anything I've seen in a long time. What at first seems like nothing more than a goofy variant on "The Matrix" transforms into a moving look at creativity and the joy of expression, all of it brought to life with an amazing level of visual and narrative detail.
The movie starts with Emmet, an ordinary Lego mini-figure who goes through his day happily following the rule book written by the town's supreme leader. The rule book is written in diagrams, like Lego instructions, but that's only one of the sly jokes that start the moment the movie begins. Most of them flash by in only a few seconds, such as the Lego-man version of jumping jacks Emmet does as part of his morning routine, but all of them are worthy of at least a chuckle.
It's possible, though, that you'll be too busy marveling at the movie's visual inventiveness to notice when it's being funny. The animators are slavishly faithful to the concept, using tiny Lego pieces (accurately sized in relation to the Lego figures) for even the droplets of water in the shower. When there's an ocean later in the movie, the waves rise and fall with the rapid stacking and unstacking of small Lego blocks. Nearly everything in the movie adheres perfectly to the rules of physical Lego construction, and it's a treat to watch every trick the animators come up with.
Even better, this creativity and rigorous attention to detail is also turned to the plot. The adventure story at first seems similar to several well-known movies, and elements such as the villainous super-weapon or the mystical artifact needed to stop it first seem like nothing more than randomly-named placeholders. As the movie unfolds, though, you slowly realize that everything was carefully planned with a larger vision in mind, and each new discovery feels like a delight. And when it all fits together, you'll marvel that you didn't see it coming.
That's not to say that the journey there isn't plenty of fun. Even if you miss all of the fantastic little touches, the movie still manages to be a slightly silly but mostly quite funny adventure chock full of guest appearances by everyone from Superman to Abraham Lincoln. Batman and Morgan Freeman's Gandalf-knockoff are particularly hilarious, though the less famous Kitty Unicorn Princess might be even more entertaining overall. They're the shiny specialty pieces in this box of Legos, the ones you know will be fun to play with the moment you open the box.
In the end, though, it's what you build that matters most. "The Lego Movie" stops at nothing short than an entirely new world, brimming with laughs, a few tears, and the power to make you feel like a little kid again.
To see what Clipper Online Editpr Dan Metcalf thought of The Lego Movie, click here for his review.