Okay, so I didn’t really set out to write a review of this film and this won’t be a normal review in the way I usually write them, but that is kind of fitting really because this isn’t a normal film in any way, shape, form or fashion and that is what makes it so great.
If you’ll notice, there are very few of the traditional midnight showings anymore. Studios used to like to open films at midnight for the hardcore fans and it made the shows kind of an event. After the horrible shooting at the midnight opening of The Dark Knight Rises in the summer of 2012, theaters started pushing the midnight start back to 10pm and in some cases even 7pm or 8pm. There are still midnight showings of course, but they are really only during the summer or holiday seasons.
More and more, the studios are allowing the 10pm starts because it allows the hardcore fans to still see the films before everyone else, but also get home and have a good nights sleep before work. This in turn has made these early shows more profitable because more and more people are coming to them because they are earlier and it’s easier for them to go.
I am one of those people who think that some of the magic of the “midnight” show has been lost, but I do understand the reasoning. Now what does this have to do with The Lego Movie? Nothing. It’s just a random thought I had while I was writing and I decided to put it in.
A whole lot of The Lego Movie feels like that.
Do you remember what it was like when you were young and playing? When I was young I had piles and piles of Star Wars action figures, I also had GI:Joe action figures, a few random action figures from this or that sci-fi film that came and went and were only around long enough to make a few toys. Mixed in with these action figures were a few Superhero action figures. It always annoyed me that those action figures (Don’t you DARE call them dolls) were taller than the Star Wars and GI:Joe action figures, but under the right conditions, I would still drop them into the storyline and put them in the action.
That kind of free play, the play that is pure imagination, is at the heart of The Lego Movie. It’s at the heart of the plot and the basic storyline, but it’s also at the heart of how the film was made and how it feels while you’re watching it. Besides watching a young kid playing with abandon and pure imagination, where on earth would you see a snarky Batman get out of a jam by jumping into the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo, Chewie, C3PO and a very suave Lando and flying off? Nowhere, that’s where. Except now you can see that scene in The Lego Movie. That scene and dozens more just as crazy, awesome and hysterical just like it.
This is a film where Dumbledore and Gandalf keep getting irritated when they get mistaken for each other. A film where The Green Lantern keeps annoying Superman by wanting to sit beside him at meetings. A film where a Lego Pirate was so damaged that the only way they could save him was to turn him into a Transformer Lego that can do anything at all and is the coolest Lego ever, but is depressed because he was such an awesome looking pirate.
Yes, there is the spine of a story about an evil business man Lego who wants to make everything perfect by gluing everything together and the “Chosen” one, spoke of in a prophecy who will hold the key to freeing them all and allowing them to be the best Lego’s they can be, much like the “storylines” we made up as kids at play, it’s just an excuse to go wild and have fun.
At its heart, this is a film about play. It’s a film about imagination and the danger of losing that imagination. I knew from the trailers that it was funny. It’s hysterical. It is laugh-out-loud funny. The jokes are fast and non-stop. There are plays on words, there are sight-gags and puns, both inventive and groan-worthy and there is physical comedy, which is weird considering they are Lego’s, but it’s there just the same.
What the trailers aren’t selling though, is the heart. This movie has a ton of heart. It is sweet and gentle in places. There are a couple of times when I found myself almost tearing up. Most of that has to do with a third-act twist that I didn’t see coming. I’m not going to say much about it because I’m not mean like that, and also because it really makes everything that has come before it make sense on a deeper level and blew me away with how inventive it was.
Third-act twists and inventive plot turns are not something you expect to come up while reviewing a film called The Lego Movie, I have to tell you. It was surprising to me just how much thought and care went into crafting this film. I know that I said a few lines above that the story was a spine to hang all the craziness on, and that still stands, but when you get to the end of this film and you see what the filmmakers did, it gives all the craziness and pure scatter-brained imagination that came before it a whole other level.
The voice work here is top-notch across the board. Chris Pratt is amazing as our hero, Emmett. He has the ability to sell panic and awe in the same sentence that is a beautiful thing to….er…hear. Will Arnett is the perfect Batman. Just snarky and clueless and yet heroic in the right moments. He is a joy. Elizabeth Banks, Will Farrell, Charlie Day…the list just goes on and on. The two that everyone will remember and be talking about though will be Liam Neeson as BadCop, doing a vocal version of his tough guy character from Taken which is hysterical. The other one people will remember is, of course, Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, the oracle and leader of the Lego Resistance. He has the gravitas that people have come to know and love. Morgan Freeman has the kind of voice where everything he says sounds like the truth. When he cracks a joke or says something just goofy, it takes a minute for it to sink in but when it does, it’s like a gut-punch of funny.
I could go on and on and those of you who read (and may still be reading) my reviews for Man of Steel and Pacific Rim can attest, I often do, but I am going to wrap this up.
The best thing I can say is to embrace your inner child and go into this film ready to play. Of course I understand that the film is playing on-screen and we don’t actually play, but it’s more in the attitude you go with. If you are the type of person who would dismiss this film as a kid’s film, then just stay at home or go see something else. This film will appeal to kids, sure, of course it will. It’s called The Lego Movie for Gods sake, of course it’s going to appeal to kids, but it is not dumbed down the way most kids movies are.
There in an attention to detail and a care in the script and the structure that I found refreshing. The best single sentence review I can give it is as follows: I felt better when I left the film than I did when it started.
As an aside I will say, you can skip the 3D. I saw it in 2D and I didn’t see anything that made me wish I would have seen the 3D version. The greatness of the film is in the script and the voice work, not things jumping out at you, so save yourself some cash.
Aside from that, I say go, be ready to laugh and have a great time and bring your imagination.
Until next time, Keep the Projector Threaded.
5 Stars out of 5. “Lego” your inner grouch and embrace the magic.