When I first saw trailers for The LEGO Movie, I thought the animation style was stop-motion, and so did everyone else at my design college, where animation is a very competitive degree. To successfully create a full-length stop-motion animated film with LEGOs is every kid-at-heart’s wildest dream. So you can imagine our disappointment to learn that the whole movie is CGI. But no worries — the disappointments end there.
The film is a treat for those of us who grew up with LEGO sets before video games destroyed the toy market. Sure, you can still bring your ten-year-old nephew to see it (and you should), but he’ll miss the film’s best jokes.
The script was written by the same guys who did Hotel Transylvania, and it’s steeped in over-the-top, Invader Zim-style shouting. The gems of it are smart pop culture references.
When WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks) recruits Emmet (Chris Pratt) to save the day, she says, “Come with me if you want to not die,” a cheeky nod to the Terminator franchise. LEGO Batman is “a real artist, dark and brooding.”
“This is an original song,” Batman tells Emmet, blasting death metal during a thrilling chase in the Batmobile. “It’s about me being an orphan.” We get it, Bruce.
The film is packed with riffs on other franchises that, like LEGOs, have driven people insane, including Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, Tim Burton’s original Batman films (before Schumacher took over), Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.
The full list of references is covered in this EW article, which, like the next two paragraphs, contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen The LEGO Movie yet, stop reading.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of MeatBalls), the film diminishes in scope and grandeur slightly when it becomes clear that this awesome LEGO world, with all its interior universes, merely exists on someone’s play table. But we cheer to learn that “someone” is none other than Will Ferrell, who, with very little screen time, delivers a heartfelt ending we never saw coming, and the film is saved.
The dictator of LEGO World, President Business, wants to control everything and “destroy the world” by gluing everything down with “The Kragle” (a tube of crazy glue), making LEGO people unable to build anew (or, for that matter, move).
Along comes the Resistance, a secret band of “Master Builders,” who have been waiting for a Messiah-like figure called “The Special” to appear in accordance to an 8-year-old prophecy that we later learn is completely fabricated (a ballsy jab at that other really old document predicting a long-awaited savior).
That “Special,” quite by accident, is Emmet, an ordinary guy who isn’t a Master Builder at all. Will he save the day? Will there be laughs? Go see the movie. Be a kid again, you deserve it.