Legos are one of the most influential toys of all time. Over 560 billion of the interlocking toy bricks have been produced between 1958 and the present day, and there are no indications that this growth is slowing. Legos seem to only expand in scope and popularity, and today have transcended the physical form into other forms of entertainment. There are comic books, television shows, and a very successful series of video games all based off of legos. But until now, legos have not been the subject of an animated, feature-length film. The colorful shapes have starred in spin-off, straight-to-DVD shorts that were never intended for a wide audience, but The Lego Movie is the first of its kind to appear on the silver screen.
The trailers for The Lego Movie did not bode well. Despite a well-known cast and interesting animation, the story seemed awfully contrived and unoriginal. Emmett is just a normal lego figurine in a lego world. He learns that he’s the chosen one to fulfill a prophecy about saving the world from certain doom. To do this, he must join a team of quirky goofballs and defeat the big evil bad guy who has an army of stormtrooper-tier minions. Barf.
However, these initial impressions were inaccurate. The LEGO Movie is the best animated film made in the past few years.
First off, Lego is the funniest film in recent memory, regardless of viewer age. There are no cheap potty gags, and there is little focus on slapstick. The jokes are often subtle, wry, clever, and they do not stop coming. There are more than enough laughs for the adults in the audience, and none of them are at the expense of younger viewers.
Surprisingly, there’s a great amount of sharp satire in this film as well. But some of it might hit a little too close to home for the Lego manufacturers. One persistent theme of the film is to reject by-the-book projects, and to create original works. This seems contrary to Lego’s corporate strategy, which essentially revolves around selling specific products designed to be built into specific play sets. For a ninety minute advertisement, the film suggests a risky venture to be so unaligned with the core of Lego’s toy production. But this seeming contradiction is part of what makes The Lego Movie particularly smart.
Lego does a great job of presenting a few parts of a world, while implying a larger unseen one. The rather abstract universe is fully believable. At first some of the mishaps and logic of the universe seems disorganized, but audience members soon realize that everything is connected and very deliberate. Like Fight Club or The Dark Knight, this is a film that you glean more from each time you see it.
In addition to an excellent voice cast, The Lego Movie is beautifully animated. The animators pulled off a genuine lego feel that lacks the blandness and plasticity present in Lego’s straight-to-DVD films. Frozen may have thawed hearts with its animation and storytelling, but The Lego Movie is able to match it stride for stride.
Budding directors and co-writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have launched into stardom with The Lego Movie. With two famous screenwriters already hired to write a sequel, Lego film is quickly building into a successful franchise.