Everything is, and continues to be, AWESOME!
It should come as no surprise that nowadays the majority of action and children’s movies exist solely to facilitate the sale of toys. More often than not the money made from toy sales far outweigh the movie’s box office return, solidifying the idea that it doesn’t matter if the movie is terrible. As long as it’s loud and colourful enough to convince children to buy the toys associated with it, the movie is deemed successful. When The Lego Movie (2014) burst into theatres five years ago, I was one of the many who immediately wrote it off as nothing more than a commercial for Lego disguised as a feature film. But after my brother and I exited the theatre, I had no doubt in my mind that I had just watched one of the best animated movies of all time.
The Lego Movie follows Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary construction worker who stumbles upon the mysterious “Piece of Resistance,” the key to stopping the plans of the evil Lord Business and freeing the entire Lego Universe from his control. Believed to be “The Special” by the rebellious group of Master Builders, Emmet joins the rag-tag group of heroes who work to stop Lord Business from draining all of the creativity from their world.
I LOVE this movie. I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it, one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. I remember it just surpassing my wildest expectations and checking all the boxes of what make a movie great:
Hilariously well-written? CHECK.
A heart-warming and uplifting message? CHECK.
Not surprising considering The Lego Movie is the brainchild of co-writer / directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative team behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and 21 Jump Street (2012). Lord and Miller possess a distinct writing style that is the perfect balance between whimsy and witty, able to transform even the silliest of premises into a laugh-out-loud adventure that audiences of all ages can find entertainment in. Seriously, how amazing is it that they took a toy that’s most famous for injuring the barefoot, and turned it into a fantastically funny and beautiful story beloved by millions? That’s a testament to the talent involved. Can we just agree to let them make whatever kind of movie they want from now on, no questions asked? Great pacing, camera angles that highlight the physical comedy, and timeless humour…Come on. Just give them all the funding already!
I need to talk about this cast. When your cast includes the likes of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, and Will Arnett just to name a few, half of the works is already done for you. I love that this cast is so perfectly tailored to their roles, that if you made a live-action version of this movie, the actors could play their respective characters seamlessly. Pratt especially shines as Emmet, whose effervescent optimism and naiveté easily makes him the movie’s most lovable character. Although, Benny the spaceship-obsessed spaceman and Princess Unikitty are pretty entertaining as well.
EVERY character is damn entertaining. Lord and Miller knew exactly what they were doing when casting for the characters they wrote. Of course Alison Brie is going to play a happy-go-lucky unicorn / kitten hybrid! That’s flawless thinking! That type of thinking has me really excited for whatever they have in mind for Tiffany Haddish in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019). Every member of the heroic team of Master Builders, from the wise wizard Vitruvius, to the tenacious WyldStyle, is a delight to watch in action. These are MY Avengers. I said what I said.
Speaking of superheroes…WILL ARNETT AS BATMAN. Wow, who would have thought this would be the standout role of the movie? A role so standout, that he got his own highly-successful spin-off that has its own sequel in the works! I love that Lord and Miller were like, ” yeah, so we’ll have a bunch of incredible original characters, and then we’ll also include Batman because of course.” Arnett’s Batman is revolutionary, hilariously tongue-in-cheek, and may just be my favourite portrayal of the caped crusader. Every one of his lines is comedy gold and they’re made all the funnier when delivered in Arnett’s trademark gravelly baritone. Sidenote, five years and multiple viewings later, I was still laughing my head off at every joke and waiting anxiously for the next one to land. Sorry Arrested Development (2003 – present) fans, but this may just be Arnett’s best role to date.
It’s one thing to make a genuinely funny movie aimed at children, but it’s another altogether to have that same movie contain a touching and heartwarming message. I’m referring to the speech Emmet gives to Lord Business to save the day: “You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. You are capable of amazing things because you are the special. And so am I. And so is everyone.” I LOVE that. I adore a good villain and watching their story unfold, but what I love even more is a protagonist who defeats the villain by coming from a place of understanding. It’s infinitely more entertaining than just killing the antagonist or throwing them in jail. The Lego Movie runs the gamut of emotions and it handles each one masterfully. Lord and Miller are expert storytellers and though there’s high demand for their work, I appreciate that they take the time to deliver the best finished product possible.
The Lego Movie is more or less a straightforward adventure story but it’s not without its twists. The reveal that Lord Business is a manifestation of the live-action “Man Upstairs” (also played by Will Ferrell) is an unexpected but fantastic move. Seeing the man and his son Finn play with Lego and witness the fun they have really resonates with the audience, the majority of which grew up playing with bricks of their own. Obviously the filmmakers had this in mind, but it really made me want to go buy and play with Lego. The live-action twist is an imaginative one that adds a special layer of nostalgia and magic to an already supremely fun movie. Sigh…who wouldn’t want to live in the Lego Universe?
It’s hard to believe that anyone ever had low expectations for this movie. Although looking back, I bet those low expectations only helped the movie as audiences were more than pleasantly surprised when watching it for the first time. And isn’t pleasantly surprised the best way to be surprised?
A wildly imaginative story with enough action, humour, and heart to keep you entertained for hours, The Lego Movie is truly without flaw. A phenomenally-written script elevates what could have been a materialistic, two-hour ad for Lego into something really special. A winning movie from start to finish, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can sit through this movie without grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s not often that you come across a movie as superb as this one, and I feel that there’s only one phrase to best sum it up: Everything Is Awesome. Yep, I just couldn’t resist.
Do you like The Lego Movie? Are you going to see the sequel?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!