Friday, February 7, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The LEGO Movie’ is a great family film

“The LEGO Movie” — which opens this weekend — captures the fun of playing with LEGOS when you were a kid, bringing back plenty of memories.

Then again, you’d expect no less from writers/co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, whose rich imaginations brought us the two “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” movies. Leave it to this creative team to put together the first full-length animated movie featuring Legos and get an A-list ensemble cast to provide voices.

Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”), Oscar nominee Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List”), Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”), Will Ferrell (“Anchorman”), Chris Pratt (“Moneyball”), Nick Offerman (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”), Charlie Day (“Pacific Rim”), Alison Brie (TV’s “Mad Men”) and Will Arnett (TV’s “We’re the Millers”) round out the cast as the main characters.

LEGO mini-figure Emmet (Pratt), an ordinary and oft-ignored construction worker, learns that he is the Special — the chosen one prophesized to stop an evil, micromanaging tyrant named Lord Business (Ferrell) from destroying the world on Taco Tuesday (yes, Taco Tuesday).

He joins an old wizard named Vitruvius (Freeman), a tough chick named Wyldstyle (Banks), an anime unicorn/kitten hybrid Uni-Kitty (Brie), a cyborg pirate named Metal-beard (Offerman), a 1980s-era astronaut named Benny (Day), and even Batman (Arnett) on their quest to defeat Lord Business, who sics his henchman Bad Cop (Leeson) on them.

Bad Cop’s forces attack Emmet when he’s addressing the Master Builders, which is a who’s who of LEGO mini-figures from original toy-lines and from licensed properties, including Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Milhouse of “The Simpsons,” one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gandalf the Grey of “Lord of the Rings,” Prof. Dumbledore of the “Harry Potter” series, President Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, and Shaquille O’Neal — quite the eclectic mix.

O’Neal voices himself. Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”) plays Superman, Cobie Smulders (TV’s “How I Met Your Mother”) plays Wonder Woman, Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) plays Green Lantern, and Will — (“The Watch”) plays Lincoln — whom he played before in “Clone High.”

Even characters from “Star Wars” appear. Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and C-3PO fly by in the Millennium Falcon. What really made their cameo fun is having Anthony Daniels give voice to C-3PO, a character he’s played in all six “Star Wars” movies, as well as Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando, whom he played in two of the “Star Wars” movies.

At points, it feels like a mish-mash of so many diverse, impossible concepts thrown together. There’s an explanation for that, coupled with a cool twist at the end of the movie, which will not be mentioned here for the sake of spoilers, but it is so well done and provides a magnificent pay-off.

Not only is “The LEGO Movie” touching, funny, and fun, it also epitomizes the ingenuity and imaginations of kids of all ages playing with LEGOS in what is easily the first family-friendly film of 2014.


Post written by Kurt Anthony Krug for Digital First Media. Reprinted with permission. 

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