When I first saw the trailer for The LEGO Movie, I and every animation student at art school thought, with awe and incredulity, that the animation style was actually stop-motion with real LEGOs. So you can imagine our disappointment when we learned that the whole movie is CGI. But no worries — the disappointments stop there. You need to see it.
The film is a treat for those of us who grew up with LEGOs before video games destroyed toys. If you have a ten-year-old nephew or niece, you can bring them to the movie, and you should, but they’ll miss out on the film’s best jokes, because they’re not old enough to get them.
The script was written by the same guys who did Hotel Transylvania and it’s filled with over-the-top, Invader Zim-style shouting, and its gems are smart pop-culture references. When WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks) recruits Emmet (Chris Pratt) to save the day, she says, “Come with me if you want to not die,” a nod to the Terminator franchise. LEGO Batman is “a real artist, dark and brooding.”
“This is an original song,” Batman tells Emmet, blasting death metal during a thrilling chase in the Batmobile. “It’s about me being an orphan.”
The film is packed with riffs on other franchises that, like LEGOs, have driven people crazy, including Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, Tim Burton’s original Batman films (before Schumacher took over), Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.
The full list of references is covered in this EW article, which, like the next two paragraphs, contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen The LEGO Movie yet, stop reading.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs), the film diminishes in scope and grandeur slightly when it becomes clear that this awesome LEGO world, with all its interior universes, merely exists on someone’s play table. But we cheer to learn that “someone” is Will Ferrell, who, with very little screen time, delivers a heartfelt ending we never saw coming, and the film is saved.
The dictator of LEGO World, President Business, wants to control everything and “destroy the world” by gluing everything down with “The Kragle” (a tube of crazy glue), making LEGO people unable to build anew (or, for that matter, move).
Along comes the Resistance, a secret band of “Master Builders,” who have been waiting for a Messiah-like figure called “The Special” to appear in accordance to an 8-year-old prophecy that we later learn is completely fake (possibly a ballsy jab at that other really old document predicting a savior). That “Special,” quite by accident, is Emmet, an ordinary guy who isn’t a Master Builder at all. Will he save the day? Will there be laughs? Go see the movie and be a kid again.