Writer/ Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Distributor: Warner Bros
Running Time: 101 minutes
Voice Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Will Arnett, and Allison Brie
Production Budget: $60 million
Plot: Emmet, an everyday builder must learn beyond what he knows in the instructions after he is mistaken as “The Special” a mini-figure who will save the Lego universe from Evil “Lord Business” who plans to take over the world on Taco Tuesday by gluing it together as he sees fit.
The Lego movie is going to make a lot of money. It has been strongly marketed and is operating off a well known relatable brand with 4-quadrant demographic appeal. It is funny enough for adults and highly enjoyable for kids. At a smooth 101 minutes the movie rarely bores you, stacked with a perfect voice cast, filled with inventive and skilled stop-motion animation, CGI, and funny jokes. There are even some nice morals infused here that give the film a bit more afterthought, so what’s missing? Anything else you can think of.
Right in the middle of the kids and adults demographic there’s me. I had my time playing with Legos. I learned to play chess quite well thanks to them, and Lego Racers 2 was my first foray into PC Gaming way back in 2001. In creating actual Legos, I always had blueprints in my mind for the awesome things that could be made, but I never realized them, whether I thought it was beyond my skill range at the time (I was in kindergarten), I always tried making something of my own, even if it was a simple boat there weren’t any instructions that I wanted to follow, I wanted my own creation.
Perhaps I was expecting too much here. Writer/ Director’s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller already have an impressive resume. Their first feature: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a huge surprise for me, a visual marvel backed up with strong quick witted humour, and their second feature “21 Jump Street” was better than it had any right to be, becoming a huge hit with a sequel due out later this summer. With this film they are again taking adaptive measures. I was caught up in their careers and rooting for their success I was perhaps unfairly expecting some sort of landmark. There are so many stories you can tell with Legos, and with Warner Bros. and a ton of licensing deals backing you up there are few limits. There’s a sort of rule in Hollywood that when you make two hits you get a freebie. Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) used his with ‘Inception’, Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) with ‘Funny People’, so I thought this would be a labour of love of sorts for them, and it didn’t seem like it was. You have a fairly typical “chosen-one” style prophetic story, with standard archetypes that make it relatable to the audience, but it doesn’t cut deep enough. A few times maybe I was either tired or found myself bored I was ready to just get the movie over with. Decide for yourself whether you trust my opinion or not, but I would say it is at least worth watching once. Small SPOILER sidenote: *The destruction of ‘Middle Zealand’ here is more impressive and rivals that of Krypton seen in ‘Man of Steel’ last summer.
Still, this is a perfect movie to take your family and kids to, but for satisfying the kid in all of us, there isn’t enough to ride on. I laughed several times throughout the movie, and its better material than the average kids movie, even though it takes the same obvious cliched steps in storytelling. My main complaint here is just feeling left out of those camps. This movie didn’t feel like it was for me, of course in the theatre I was surrounded by young kids and parenting adults and don’t belong with either of those camps. I wasn’t angry, as they added to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the film, I did still envy them. Was there a missing piece to this movie? Many audience members will gladly fill in the blanks with their own imagination, as being yourself and still accepting others creations is a major theme of the film, but bringing me back to those times where what was followed felt a lot like the plain instructions feels like world building that was made for just everyone else.
To be clear, I am recommending the movie easily to adults and their little kids. The voice cast is great; Morgan Freeman as the voice of wisodm, sweet and adorable Elizabeth Banks as the love interest, Chris Pratt as the affable everyman, Will Arnett as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Liam Neeson as tough guy Bad Cop, and with Will Ferrell topping it off as the evil yet sympathetic President Business, this is a recipe for a homerun. And you can be sure to hear the younglings screaming the theme “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan and Sarah / The Lonely Island crew, yet it all feels heartbreakingly underserved. This is a movie that could have been special, instead it argues for that speciality in all of us without bringing its own. A wise investment and a financial no-brainer, perhaps with a sequel all that I had imagined may come to life, but for now I will have to just go out and finally make my own set.
Rating: +1/ B
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