THE LEGO MOVIE
Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Screenwriters: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Runtime: 100 mins
Australian release date: 3 April 2014
Previewed at: Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction, Sydney on 23 March 2014
You don’t have to be a fan of the famous little Danish building bricks to have fun at The Lego Movie. Its off-the-wall script and frenetic pace will keep you engaged right up to its clever finale. Scripted and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, what appears to be a classic, run-of-the-mill script - hopelessly unqualified man/woman/child (insert protagonist of choice here) overcomes massive odds to win the day/woman/prize (insert selected goal here) and becomes a better person along the way, while learning an important lesson - is transformed into a fresh look at the way such stories are made, playing with the standard clichés of the format as it does so.
When we first meet Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), he’s a happy little construction worker Lego mini-figure, content with the daily routine of his menial life, but all that changes when he stumbles on the Piece of Resistance and is subsequently mistaken for the ‘Special’, a saviour who has long been prophesised about in Lego lore and who is predicted to defeat the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). He teams up with Batman (Will Arnett), his ass-kicking girlfriend Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and the ancient mystic Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman ) in order to destroy Lord Business’s weapon of doom, the Kragl (you’ll have to see the movie to get this gag). Once they leave Brickworld their quest takes them through an array of Lego universes, each one crazier than the last. There’s so much going on in these scenes and the screen is so often crammed with images from pop culture, all vying for our attention and all lovingly detailed (think of Dumbledore, Green Lantern, Superman, Gandalf and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hanging out together), that you might want to give The Lego Movie a second viewing.
For this loving attention to detail we have to thank the Australian effects house Animal Logic. Its designers and programmers have managed to make this collection of ‘mini-figs’ come to life in a wonderful stop-motion way, even though we know its all been created in the computer. It gives the film a hand-crafted look that is very appealing. They have also very cleverly given the characters a full set of emotions while staying true to the conformity of the Lego style book. Probably the best example of this is Emmet’s nemesis, Good Cop/ Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), Lord Business’s evil henchman who’s not always, well, evil.
There’s an interesting sub-text to all this mayhem: the message is that adults should be wary of the dangers of forcing young minds into mental strait-jackets, of not stifling their innate creativity. It posits that our imagination is just as important as our intellect and that the ability to think laterally must be nurtured. It’s an intriguing concept and it begs the question, “Is this a children’s film for adults or an adult’s film for children?” Either way, it works for audiences of all ages, Lego fans or not.