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The Lego Movie: a surprisingly smart, anti-corporate kids movie

The Lego Movie is more than just the sum of its parts.

 

I will admit that my expectations walking into The Lego Movie were not high.  A popular toy does not seem like fertile ground for the basis of a feature film.  But despite its dubious source material, The Lego Movie manages to be fresh, visually alluring and, somehow, heart-warming.

The Lego Movie centres on Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary Lego construction worker who finds himself caught up in a battle between good and evil.  The villain of the film is Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a CEO-cum-dictator, whose evil plan is to build the Lego world as he, and only he, sees it.  But, as in most good kids films, the plot is not what gives the film its edge.

Throughout the one hundred minute runtime, the screen is awash with primary colours and fast moving action.  The animation is a mix of 3D and stop-motion style, which works very well in conjunction with the Lego brick aesthetic.

The anti-corporate tone of the film injects a degree of satire for the benefit of those over the age of ten.  But this satiric element is so cutting and well handled that the film succeeds where many adult films have faltered.  The jokes directed at corporatism have been made before (coffee is expensive!  All pop music sounds the same!), but they are well delivered and work on a broad level.

The voice work from the major players varies from excellent to passable.  There are also a huge number of cameos from famous faces (voices) that turn the film into a cavalcade of Hollywood talent.  Special mention should be given to Will Arnett’s portrayal of Lego Batman. Arnett brings a unique life and energy to everything to which he lends his talents, and The Lego Movie is no exception to this.

Without giving too much away, the film’s third act is defiantly different from what precedes it.  The writers choose to divert the film’s focus towards a set of characters that are not even introduced until the final twenty minutes.  It’s a brave move.  Some will enjoy the experimentation in this, whereas others may find it jarring and, perhaps, a little too twee.

Very few of the jokes in the film fall flat, which is remarkable considering that almost every piece of dialogue, including exposition, ends in a punch line.  The film moves at a mile-a-minute like any good blockbuster should.  Despite the writer’s penchant for satire and experimentation, the film never loses its child-like perspective.  Much like the toy it is based on, The Lego Movie finds its success in simplicity.

Overall The Lego Movie is a wonderful surprise.  When I walked in to the screening I expected a feature length toy advent.  Instead I was treated to a postmodern kids’ movie with a heart and a message that, no matter your age, is worth listening to.

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