Saturday, January 10, 2015

Almost Subversive, The Lego Movie Hedges Its Bets!

The Good: Good voice cast, Themes, Good plot progression
The Bad: Overstates itself, “Twist” guts the adult aspects, Predictable
The Basics: The Lego Movie has a strong start, but becomes unfortunately obvious and thematically heavy-handed.

There are only a handful of films from 2014 that I am still looking forward to seeing. Near the top of the list was The Lego Movie and so, as the new year gets under way and my wife and I have more date nights, it was one of our first choices to pick up and watch. The Lego Movie initially lives up to its promise of being a smart, thematically-subversive film intended far more for adults than the obvious children’s audience. With its impressive voice cast, most of whom are familiar to adults as opposed to children, The Lego Movie is a fun film.

In fact, the real issues with The Lego Movie come from overstating itself. In the last fifteen minutes of the film, there is a twist that nails the themes home in such a way that The Lego Movie pretty much mortgages its own themes and cleverness. While The Lego Movie makes allusions to things like The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!) and has some generally adult themes on the nature of capitalism and social order, it plays a number of its jokes over and over again, making it a tougher sell than it should have been.

Emmet is an ordinary worker in the Lego block world that is surprisingly mundane. He is a construction worker who follows all the rules and has a very regular schedule. President Business runs both the government and the big business in the world and the citizens are thrilled when he announces the forthcoming Taco Tuesday. As Emmet is leaving his construction site, he sees a mysterious stranger, Wyldstyle, who is sifting through the rubble for something. Emmet wakes up with a device – the Piece Of Resistance - stuck to his back, in the custody of Bad Cop. Emmet is rescued by Wyldstyle, who takes him to Vitruvius.

Vitruvius explains that Emmet is The Special, a man of prophecy. It is his destiny to bring the Piece Of Resistance to Lord Business’s Kragle weapon and stop the villain from unleashing his weapon upon the many Lego realms. Pursued by Bad Cop’s forces (after President Business removes his “Good Cop” alter-ego), Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius try to escape using their imaginations to reorganize their vehicles. Rescued by Batman, the heroes head to Cloud Cuckooland where all of the disparate Master Builders are meeting to plan how to get the Piece Of Resistance to the Kragle. But Bad Cop’s forces break things up and soon the heroes are fleeing once again. While Emmet slowly learns how to live up to his potential, Lord Business begins to reveal his maniacal plans!

For a film that is basically an advertisement for every property Warner Brothers is affiliated with (the DC Comics universe, Harry Potter, LEGO The Lord Of The Rings), The Lego Movie does a decent job of attacking corporate mechanisms. Lord Business utterly screws over his most loyal lieutenant and that plays well throughout the film.

The Lego Movie utilizes an incredibly talented voice cast. Led by Chris Pratt as Emmet, The Lego Movie has fun vocal performances from Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day and Will Arnett. Each member of the cast is expert at emoting using only their voice talents and whatever problems exist with the film, the cast and their line deliveries are not at fault.

The Lego Movie looks good and has moments of charm, but it plunges into average territory as it progresses and takes a safe, albeit somewhat surprising, route. The departure from the main narrative beats home the themes the film was building to and it undermines the imagination and style of the film. The result is that The Lego Movie is good, but far from flawless.

For other works with Chris Pratt, please visit my reviews of:
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Movie 43
The Five-Year Engagement
Bride Wars
Strangers With Candy


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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