THE LEGO MOVIE. Voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. 100 minutes. Rated PG (Mild animated violence and crude humour).
This is one of a rare breed of animated kids’ films and should be recognised alongside the Toy Story trilogy as an adventure which can captivate and entertain viewers of any age. Fun, inventive and engaging, The Lego Movie is perfectly constructed viewing for the whole family.
Emmett (Chris Pratt) is just a regular Lego figure living in a vast, thriving Lego metropolis. He works in construction, and always follows the instructions to the letter. But when he is mistaken for ‘The Special’ – a prophesised Master Builder who will save the universe – by the beautiful Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), he is thrown into a race to stop the evil President Business (Will Ferrell) from unleashing a secret weapon which will stick all Lego pieces together forever.
Although one could cynically view the announcement of a movie based around a child’s plaything as another cash grab from a multimillion dollar studio, seeing the finished product should assuage even the hardest of heart. Co-directors and co-screenwriters Lord and Miller have worked in both animation (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and live action (21 Jump Street) in the past, and here draw on all their experience to craft both an emotionally rich and resonant story, and some eye-popping visuals to boot. The animation is computer generated, however it has been rendered to resemble a stop-motion film, and the resulting blend of dizzying action and constant spectacle is an absolute treat. There are few shots where an ‘Easter egg’ of sorts could not be found by eagle-eyed viewers surveying the background, and there are layers upon layers of pop culture references, some which the kids may miss completely although parents should appreciate them.
Although ostensibly an excuse to fill the shot with bright colours, the screenplay boasts an unexpected depth. The journey of Emmett, a ‘nobody who saved everybody’, is full of lessons which every child should learn. The tension between conformity and individuality lies at the centre, and Emmett’s physical journey is matched by the soul-searching he does throughout the movie – does he want to fit in like he always has, or does he truly want to be different and special? Themes of sacrifice, heroism, identity, responsibility and the imperfections of reality are easily unwrapped from the story, and are presented in a manner that is remarkably easy to comprehend, and could even lead to genuine discussions with any kids who would accompany you. Finally, the humour is a non-stop barrage of puns and sight gags and jokes which come with alarming frequency and energetic delivery – people not laughing out loud by the time the last joke rolls around will have the existence of their funny bone soundly questioned.
The voice cast is also brilliantly filled out by a collection of Hollywood stars. Chris Pratt is a wonderful everyman in the lead role, and his journey of self-discovery is laden with real feeling and warmth. Elizabeth Banks is tough and feisty as the goth-chick love interest, who is deep down unsure of who she really wants to be too. Will Ferrell plays within his wheelhouse as an angry, obnoxious man-child, but is well suited to the role. The rest of the players read like a current who’s who list of actors and actresses – Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders and Charlie Day, to name a few. The voice talent is never afraid to make fun of their film personas, and inject the proceedings with a sense of cinematic fun which audiences will appreciate.
Surprisingly funny, heartfelt, beautifully animated and epic in scope, The Lego Movie is a winner for children and parents alike.
Callum Ryan is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out April 3.