“The Lego Movie” is one of the most original animated comedies in years

The Lego Movie is one of the most original animated comedies in years

Sam Lineberger

 

There are, as far as former or current Lego enthusiasts are concerned, only two types of Lego users.

Instruction junkies tackle only the most infuriating, intricate sets and then often display them for weeks on end to collect dust. The second type might combine Lancelot’s Castle and the Millennium Falcon with a fire station.

In the recently released “The Lego Movie,” Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a rule-follower. He keeps his government-issued, handy-dandy manual close at all times, as does generally every other member in Bricksburg.

He has no idea that President Business (Will Ferrell) – the head of, well, everything – is secretly the nefarious Lord Business, who plots to glue the entire world in place by wielding a secret weapon known as Kragle – a scratched-up tube of Krazy Glue.

One day, Brickowoski meets an eccentric woman who goes by the name of Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who, along with hippy muse Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), is convinced that Brickowoski is the “Special,” a savior of all MiniFigures who possesses unmatchable creativity.

If this sounds like “Brave New World” meets animated superhero flick meets “Scary Movie” to you, you’d be right in some regards.

That said, despite the reliance on pop-culture parody and a mock-Marxist – though surprisingly valid – social critique, “The Lego Movie” does have one thing going for it: it’s really, really funny.

Jokes and puns fly at a steady one-every-30-seconds clip, and the voice acting is at least as good as any other animated comedy. “The Lego Movie” boasts cameos galore: Nick Offerman plays disgruntled pirate Metal Beard, Shaquille O’Neal gets screen time as the most ballin’ of “Master Builders,” Liam Neeson voices a growly, head-spinning “Good/Bad Cop,” Jonah Hill shows up as a whiny Green Lantern and Billy Dee Williams even “reprises” his role as Lando Calrissian.

On top of this, the 3-D animation is gorgeous and every scene is as lush as you would expect.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who have previously collaborated on “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “21 Jump Street” and “How I Met Your Mother,” seemingly take advantage of every available physical gag. Blind Vitruvius is as likely to channel “Book of Eli” as he is to walk headfirst into walls. Enamored MiniFigures can’t do much other than kind of awkwardly interlock “hands.”

The irony doesn’t escape me that “The Lego Movie” is more or less a feature-length toy advertisement. Admittedly, this kind of corporate plug takes away from the prevailing message that kids should be free to exercise their creativity any way they please.

Then again, as a child, Legos seemed like a sort of other world where my ideas could go rampant across the bedroom floor.

In any case, “The Lego Movie,” like any successful animated film, provides even more laughs for the parents than the children. It’s funnier and – naturally – less “Disneyfied” than the likes of “Frozen,” but also much less fulfilling than, for example, Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises.”

Rating: eight out of ten Lego bricks

Story by Sam Lineberger, A&E Reporter