Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie
Rating: 3 out of 5 Lego bricks. I really liked this movie when it first started and had high expectations going in (based on all the positive buzz it had received when it hit theaters), and I loved the final act quite a bit as well, but in the middle stretch, I started to grow weary of its frenzied pace and its equally hyper comedic timing. It’s a very clever and ambitious animated-comedy, don’t get me wrong– but I think I was expecting to actually laugh more than I did. For me, the experience was more often a strictly cognitive recognition of humor, with the exception of certain moments that seemed more heartfelt and driven by the actual narrative, and less rushed for the sake of maintaining the film’s frantic vibe and also less burdened by the very same self-aware, jokey pretension that makes the film so smart in the first place.
And I know people will probably hate me for not loving the film as much as it perhaps deserves to be loved– again, it is smart and slick especially with regard to the very question of product placement, but there was only so much entertainment I was able to consistently find in that, somehow. And its themes and morals are particularly wonderful too (like imagination and creativity over order and control, for instance), but as far as enjoyment goes, this movie simply didn’t mesh quite as well with my sense of humor as I would have liked or hoped.
For those who don’t already know, the film tells the story of Emmet (Pratt) who, despite his bland, average every[Lego]man appearance, demeanor and profession as a construction worker, unwittingly becomes the “Special:” a figure who is meant to save [Lego] humanity by finding the piece of resistance and using it to stop Lord Business from gluing the universe into place. I loved the way objects from our human world were implemented into this fantastical Lego world, and the way our understanding of Legos as a toy was also an integral part of the tale (the piece of resistance being a cap for the dreaded “Kragle” weapon which is, in fact, Krazy Glue).
The adventure that drives the film is certainly exhilarating, but also exhausting, and I think the film works best when the jokes are subtle and referential. The film is smartest in those moments, and yet some of the other jokes seemed alternately stupid, albeit on purpose maybe, and the shifts between the two were often confusing and tiresome.
That being said, this film is good, and I’m in no way saying it isn’t. I think my expectations were perhaps too high and my sense of humor too slow, or at least it was, in a sense, too unprepared– for the brightly colored sugar-rush of gags and characters that this film builds with such a rapid and giddy fervor, a fervor that is impressive but which I often found a chore to keep up with.
So, all of those complaints being aired out now, I really want to emphasize what I did love and enjoy about this film. It was fun to pick out the many voice cameos to be had from comedians and actors both random and expected, and its main cast of voice actors treat the script with a certain kind of gravity that is, again, both endearing and also a little jarring. The film’s final act which contains a twist of sorts was my absolute favorite aspect of the film– these final scenes were creative, thrilling and emotional, and they sold me on the film as a whole, I think. I loved that the film is not devoid of lessons for its younger viewers.
The Lego Movie, like the messages it boasts, is truly special in all its hodgepodge glory and in its ability to draw inspiration from a toy and become something more innovative and meaningful, giving the Lego building blocks we all know and love a renewed creative potential. In the end, I only wish I had found the film funnier, but Miller and Lord’s other strengths are definitely still discernible in what is otherwise a visually astonishing and intelligent animated feature.