The Lego Movie isn’t just better than a film called The Lego Movie has any right to be. It’s a good movie period.
Starring a bunch of the titular toy, the movie follows the story Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), an everyman in everyway. Emmet’s favorite song is the most popular song out there, same for television show. He lives life by the book; literally. Despite being a nice guy, Emmet doesn’t have any friends, leading him to read a book on how to make them. However, Emmet may be far more than he appears, as it turns out he is Chosen One, the great MasterBuilder who will save the world.
If this all sounds rather generic, that’s kind of the point. The screenplay by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who worked together on 21 Jump Street) with story credits by Dan and Kevin Hageman, is all about playing up the absurdities of the Chosen One plot. In the world of The Lego Movie, there are countless other characters better at helping protect society than Emmet. Take for example Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who can craft an escape vehicle from neighboring materials, or Batman (Will Arnett as yes, that Batman), who also shares a similar knack for creating on the fly. Emmet, well, in his most dire moments he makes a double-decker couch.
The movie is ludicrous fun. It has a madcap energy that is almost too much at times, with the screen’s Lego-based images flying everywhere, as gags are crammed into every frame. The humor is richly layered, neither talking down to kids with simplicity or littering itself with pop-culture bits for the adults. There are the occasional jokes about the block-y nature of the toys, yet again, these bits are used as enhancements to already solid laughs.
Lord and Miller build a nice array of supporting characters; the arrogant Batman, the relentlessly joyous Unikitty, the spaceship obsessed Benny and many more. Even nicer is how Lord and Miller give all of these characters ardent narrative beats along the way. There’s also the knack for absurdity they brought to the terrific 21 Jump Street a few years ago. All of this and they even throw in a tender, emotional heart, finishing up the film with a terrific last act.
If there’s one knock for The Lego Movie it is how closely it occasionally resembles 2009’s A Town Called Panic, the superb comedy featuring toy figures in absurd situations. It’s not merely the toy-based nature of it, but also the farcical way the plot plays out. For 99% of people this complaint won’t mean a thing, yet as a fan of Panic it has to be said that it was felt.
The Lego Movies opens wide all across Seattle tomorrow.