When The Lego Movie rolled around a year ago, I dismissed it as just a cheap toy commercial for the kiddies. Then I started seeing reviews that said, no, it's not that but rather a sharp intelligent animated movie. My Culture Vultures co-host, Otto the Autopilot, said it was surprisingly good, so when it was a Black Friday deal for $4 on Blu-ray(!!) I figured I'd take a peek at what's happening in the brick yard. It turns out, the hype was right.
Chris Pratt voices Emmet Brickowski, an average Joe with no real creative impulses who accidentally becomes "The Special" by discovering the Piece of Resistance which can thwart the evil Lord Business' (Will Ferrell) scheme to use a super weapon called the "Kragle" (the reveal of what this is is a hoot) to freeze Legoland in place forever. Along with Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who Emmet is smitten by only to learn she's dating Batman (Will Arnett), and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), they cross the various Lego realms on their quest with Emmet naturally screwing things up most of the way.
What makes The Lego Movie click is the frequently brainy and meta visual and verbal gags it slings. Executed with computer animation that deliberately mimics the limitations of the figures (if they had endless time, money and manpower, it could've been stop-motion animated) and little details like the fingerprints on the figures (hint, hint), it's a visual joy. But it's the occasionally randomish bits and cameos that blast buy (which I shant spoil lest I deprive you of the fun) that keep things kicking. Pay attention to the credits to see who Superman and Green Lantern are. Heh.
There's a reveal foreshadowed which I didn't expect to manifest and take so much time at the end, but it made me think of Toy Story 3 and the irony of an elaborately-made computer-animated movie which ultimately argues that the most fun you can have is to take physical toys - not video simulacrums - and imagine your own adventures with them beyond what the instructions direct.
What's most shocking about The Lego Movie is how it was totally snubbed for the Best Animated Feature category* despite being a smash hit and the relentless earworm anthem, "Everything Is Awesome," garnering a Best Song nom. Come on, Oscar!
The Blu-ray looks and sounds fine and the extras delve somewhat into the production aspects showing the filmmakers visiting Lego headquarters in Denmark and how every piece in the movie is based on a real-world equivalent; you could pretty much build anything that's shown onscreen.
Score: 8/10. Rent it.
* Review written 1/20/2015, after the Oscar nominations have been announced.