Besides being the bane of bare feet everywhere, LEGO’s have been a part of our upbringing for over 60 years. Few companies can claim that the height of their popularity began in their second half-century, but with each new franchise Lego associates itself with, they close the cultural and age divide of their fans. This has become apparent in the fact that I was at a video game store buying Lego Batman 2 next to a mother buying it for her child or how I try to justify paying $150 for a Lego Hobbit set being (almost) in my mid-30’s.
Now the inevitable has happened; a full-length movie based on the blocks themselves. The reigns were given to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who have made a niche for themselves in two very different franchises (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs & 21 Jump Street). They have expertly combined these two vastly different types of comedy and created a very special thing: a movie that is as good to watch as an adult as it is a kid.
The LEGO Movie follows everyman, Emmet (Chris Pratt), a construction worker who gets up, goes to work, buys overpriced coffee, watches the same show as everyone else and basically conforms to the life society has told him to live. The social commentary in the first ten minutes is palpable even through the laughter. It is just the beginning of self-awareness you will watch for 100 minutes.
After work one day Emmet notices a woman snooping around the construction site and as he follows her he accidentally happens upon the Piece of Resistance. It becomes fused to Emmet and he is taken to be interrogated by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson). Soon, the woman, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), comes to his rescue and takes Emmet to see Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) who pronounces Emmet to be the “special”. The one to take the Piece of Resistance and stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from unleashing the mysterious “Kragle” destroying the LEGO world as they know it.
Only problem being that Emmet is not a master builder, meaning his ideas appear to be pretty much useless.
Emmet, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius make their way to a secret meeting of master builders including Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Shaquille O’Neal, Michelangelo (the artist), Michelangelo (the Ninja Turtle), Gandalf and Dumbledore to name a few.
Side note: Morgan Freeman’s dialogue with Gandalf and Dumbledore is worth the price of admission alone.
Emmet is scorned for not being the “special” and has to prove to everyone that if they all work together, they can defeat Lord Business. Their journey is a frantic one as they are continually being hunted by Bad Cop over various LEGO sets that give a good history lesson to the little plastic blocks. All the while Emmet pines for the affection of Wyldstyle who is currently dating Batman (Will Arnett), who even writes a song for his girlfriend about being an orphan and dark.
Speaking of Batman’s love song; The LEGO Movie’s soundtrack is expertly handled by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, who has also done the music to multiple Wes Anderson films as well as Nickelodeon’s Rugrats. The film’s theme song “Everything is Awesome” (written by Shawn Patterson) plays a prominent role throughout. Tegan and Sara teamed up with The Lonely Island (yes, from Jizz in my Pants) to sing what is perhaps the greatest song ever performed in human history. I oversell, but seriously, try and have a bad day listening to this.
The voice casting is as close to perfect as you can get. You already know that Morgan Freeman will be awesome because…Morgan Freeman. We also get the likes of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in a nice bit of back and forth as Superman and Green Lantern, giving fans of 21 Jump Street some fun fan service, Alison Brie, Charlie Day (who goes full-on Sunny in one scene), Will Forte and Nick Offerman. We even get Anthony Daniels and “Sweet” Billy Dee Williams as C-3PO and Lando for God’s sake!
Second side note: Liam Neeson’s Good Cop voice will haunt my dreams forever.
Even as The LEGO movie winds down with an epic battle it does something unexpected; it hits you right in the feels. I will not give anything away, but it is sufficient to say, when it is revealed what is in the abyss and the movie reaches its climax, prepare for a gut punch that only an adult can feel. I almost had a Toy Story 3 moment…almost (don’t make me go there again).
I was expecting good things out of The LEGO Movie and even those expectations were far exceeded. It is increasingly funny the farther along the story goes and will make you feel what it was like to be a kid again, then brings you back to remind you that you are an adult, but it is still never too late to be special.
Everything is awesome, indeed (at least for 100 minutes).