[Review] The LEGO Movie

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Everything is awesome. And that especially includes The LEGO Movie.

The Lego Movie is The Lego Group’s latest foray into the movie genre, and almost definitely it’s most successful. The Lego Movie is about an unassuming, generic Lego minifigure named Emmet, who tries as hard as he can to follow the instructions on how to fit in and make friends. He manages to follow his instructions so well that he just blends in and nobody really knows who he is.

Enter Lord Business, who, as the villain, is intent on making the rest of the Lego world follow the instruction manuals for the sets they’re building. Free-building is discouraged, and the group of elite builders who refuse to follow the instructions, called the “master builders,” are hunted down almost to extinction. To keep this review largely spoiler-free, events take place and it turns out Emmet is the only one who can stop President Business’s evil plan to use his doomsday weapon on the Lego world.

I grew up playing with Legos, so I was ecstatic when I saw the trailer for this movie. I was worried that this movie would be similar to other CGI, straight-to-DVD Lego movies that I’ve seen. Let’s be honest. Lego movies have always been funny, and borderline entertaining, but not really ‘A’ movie material. Thank goodness, my fears were proven unwarranted.

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“Super-overpriced coffee? Awesome!”

The Lego Movie turned out to be one of the most enjoyable animated movies I’ve seen. And I use the term ‘animated’ loosely, because the movie was made with a mix of stop-motion animation and CGI. The Legos they used were real Legos; you could even see the slight indentations in the plastic left from frequent usage on some of the minifigs as well as the lines left from the plastic molds. The movie looked like an actual, moving Lego set. The motions were jerky, and all the minifigures and other Lego pieces were restricted to their normal, real-world points of articulation. Exactly how Legos move when you’re playing with them. Trust me, I know from experience.

Another thing I was worried about was that the movie was going to be one big Lego commercial, showcasing all the different kinds of Lego sets. But that wasn’t the case. Granted, there were a lot of Legos, from a lot of different types of sets, from a lot of different worlds in the Lego Universe. But the movie was much less “Hey! Look at all the sets we have and you should buy all these!” and much more “There are so many different sets, the possibilities are endless. Let’s build a spaceship out of dinosaur parts and NBA basketball court pieces.” In fact, the entire story was about how much creative power the average person can have using Legos as a medium. It’s about not sticking to just building the sets with the instructions, but grabbing a handful of random pieces just to see what you can make. It actually made me feel bad for using the instruction manuals for the Lego sets I keep on my desk. In fact, excuse me one moment while I see what happens when you try to combine the Space Needle with the Batwing and a taxi.

Okay, that didn’t work out so well.

Back to the movie.

There have been movies based off of toys that have done terribly (I’m looking at you, Battleship), but I don’t think I could find a part of this movie to say something bad about if I tried. It was very well animated, the 3D was professionally done and actually not very gimmicky (meaning they didn’t spend time throwing stuff at the viewer). The story took an average-guy-saves-the-world movie trope, and turned it into a very creative and well-executed story, with a uniquely Lego twist to it. The soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh (of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs fame) was great from the action-heavy scenes, right down to the pop-y song “Everything Is Awesome” that all the obedient, indoctrinated minifigures listen to.

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“Oh, no! I’m stuck, too!” “I super hate you.”

Humor has always been something you could rely on to be decent in Lego animations, and The Lego Movie was no exception. Probably the funniest moments were just the interactions between the multitudes of different characters. One of my favorite lines is when Green Lantern is annoying Superman, and Superman tells him that his power to create anything with his ring is useless because the whole point of Legos is “ANYONE can build ANYTHING out of anything else!” There’s also Benny, the washed-up 1980-something astronaut, who just really wants to build a spaceship the entire movie. And those were just the minor characters.

Now, this isn’t to say that the movie is just funny and otherwise is emotionally bland. It had a surprising amount of depth for a kid’s movie. There were a few moments towards the end where it really pulled at my heartstrings. I don’t want to go into specifics in an attempt to remain spoiler-free, but if you’re a sucker for strong father-son moments, bring a few tissues.

I’ll admit that I’m a little biased because I still play with Legos, but this was just overall an incredible movie, and easily appropriate for the whole family to enjoy. I’m very much looking forward to a sequel, and I really hope it gets made by the same creative team.

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