When I saw the trailer for The Lego Movie, my heart sank. I thought it looked like a soulless piece of mindless product placement destined to sit alongside Smurf movies, Barbie movies and their ilk. Happily, it turns out I was completely wrong.
The Lego Movie is a delightfully surreal experience – warm, witty, imaginative, satirical, self-deprecating, knowing in a good way, and even oddly moving. It rates alongside the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs as one of the most deliciously odd family movies of recent years. The plot, such as it is, resembles a classic quest, with Emmet, an everyday construction worker, discovering he might be the Chosen One – a Master Legobuilder destined to overthrow an evil megalomaniac called Mr Business who wants to glue the Lego universe together.
So far, so The Matrix. But as the film jumps from one outrageous Lego world to the next – taking in Lego City, the Wild West, 1980s vintage Space sets (complete with astronaut with the helmet broken in the EXACT place those helmets always broke), Cloud Cuckoo Land (don’t ask), Emmet’s brain… No, actually it’s just too flippin’ bizarre to explain in words. But it is loads of fun. There are also cameos from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Michelangelo, Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dumbledore and Gandalf (other characters constantly confuse the two), various Star Wars characters… Heck, it’s a seriously demented piece of work.
There is a real sense of satire in the way Mr Business brainwashes his citizens into mindlessly compliant automatons who think “everything is awesome”. “Follow the instructions” is the Lego first commandment, and amid the exhaustingly strange twists and turns, there is an interesting point being made about the importance of imagination. Obviously Lego is a multi-generation toy that also appeals to adults, and the film reflects this in clever ways that really are too good to spoil.
Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have deliberately aped the style of those hilarious online amateur Lego shorts rather than make this look like a mega-budget animation (which it is, incidentally). They have also assembled a fine cast that includes Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill and tying for man of the match (voice of the match?) Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson.
Consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious, and with a gag rate that demands repeat viewings, The Lego Movie is, unexpectedly, an absolute blast.