The date was June 18, 2010. That was the day that “Toy Story 3” released in theaters, which was a phenomenally entertaining and heartfelt farewell that both capped off one of the best trilogies in movie history, but also made me feel ten years old for its hearkening back to the nostalgia of my childhood. Since then, there hasn’t been another film that has given me that special feeling of feeling like a kid again … until this past weekend when “The Lego Movie” released.
Emmet is a perfectly ordinary Lego figure that inhabits the Lego metropolis, Bricksburg. He leads a “Groundhog Day”-esque life where he follows all the rules placed in society, and works construction every day. However on one day at the site, he comes across an ancient artifact that contains a prophecy about the “Special,” a figure with ingenious building abilities that will defeat the evil tyrant, Lord Business, from freezing the entire Lego universe. Mistaken as the “Special,” Emmet is thrust into a wild adventure along with a fellowship of Master Builders to thwart Business’ plan from taking effect.
I, like millions of other kids during the late 90s/early 2000s, grew up playing with Legos. The feeling of building things with miniature bricks was a fond means of being creative in the most unique ways. Though that phase of my life is now well over ten years in the past, it doesn’t mean I’m too old to reminisce those childhood memories, and “The Lego Movie” does an expert job at fulfilling that desire.
Leading one of the best ensemble voice casts in recent memory, Chris Pratt is an excellent fit for Emmet, as he conveys the perfect balance of goofball charm and manic energy for the character. Alongside Pratt, Elizabeth Banks is quite good as Emmet’s Master Builder sidekick, Wyldstyle, and Will Ferrell’s trademark eccentricity translates very well to voicing the villain, Lord Business.
However out of the wide assortment of celebrities that also lend their voices for this film, which includes Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, and Channing Tatum amongst many others, it’s Morgan Freeman that stands out above the ensemble, playing the voice of Vitruvius, a wizard that guides Emmet on his path towards becoming a Master Builder. Even though it is a cliché to mention how his soothing deep voice can function in either voicing or providing narration for just about anything, Freeman makes the best out of his character’s screen time, which was surprisingly much longer than I expected.
In terms of animation, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Lego universe is created through a combination of computer animation and stop-motion, both of which blend seamlessly in creating one breathtaking setting after another. The bright colors and vibrant scenery designs are a feast for the eyes, presented with immaculate detail from the Lego figures to the imaginative settings themselves. The stop-motion style is also quite fitting since most fan-created Lego films are done using this process to make the figures move look like they move on their own.
On a hot streak after helming “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “21 Jump Street,” co-writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller continue to prove their status as a prime duo in showcasing the most irreverent, yet original senses of humor in the comedy and animation genres today. They both inject a surprising amount of diversity into the film’s humor, most notably its meta references to a multitude of Lego-related subjects, in addition to numerous clever moments that adults will understand more than children. Likewise to Lord and Miller’s two previous features, repeated viewings are warranted since their trademark rapid-fire pace of jokes is constantly present in this film.
However the most staggering of Lord and Miller’s achievements with this film is how they never made it feel like a corporate cash grab. In the midst of all the eye candy, there is a setting that resembles a Lego version of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four,” in addition to mature themes that touch upon creative control, and free spirit in the face of evil. “The Lego Movie” is the last place you’d expect subjects like these, but they work sublimely in the hands of the Lord/Miller duo.
Ultimately, “The Lego Movie” is one of the best animated films I have seen in the past decade. With excellent voice work, spectacular animation, and an intelligently sophisticated sense of humor, it is sure to equally impress both kids and adults. To sum up this movie in three simple words, “everything is awesome.”
RECOMMENDED: “The Lego Movie” is without question not only the best movie of 2014 so far, but also one of the best animated films in almost a decade, too.