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'The Lego Movie' is energetic and clever fun for all ages

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The Lego Movie

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Considering that it's been out for over two weeks now, and has been a box office smash with a sequel already on the way, it's fairly likely that you've at least heard about The Lego Movie. It's also fairly likely that if you're an adult, you probably have little to no interest in seeing a movie with a concept and title that sounds like a thinly-veiled commercial for a kids' toy line in movie form.

The funny thing is that, while I'm not going to go so far as to say The Lego Movie is a deep, meaningful, or adult-oriented film, it's certainly a well-made one that adults can easily enjoy, thanks to clever writing and some truly wonderful visuals. Speaking as an adult, I had a very good time with this movie, and I think that for the intended family audience, most experiences will be similarly fun.

Set in an alternate CG-animated world where everyone and everything is made of Lego bricks, the story focuses on Emmet (Voiced by Chris Pratt), a construction worker who is perfectly average and unremarkable, to the point where when asked, neighbors and colleagues can't think of much to say about him either good or bad. Through a series of events, he ends up in possession of an artifact called the Piece of Resistance, which has been prophesized by the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to be key in stopping the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from wreaking havoc on the world with a mysterious object known only as the Kragle.

Being the one who discovers the Piece, Emmet is deemed "The Special", and ends up on a wild quest through various worlds besides his home city with a growing group of colorful side characters, including Vitruvius, tough girl Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), astronaut and spaceship-building enthusiast Benny (Charlie Day), and none other than Batman (Will Arnett), as the movie takes full advantage of incorporating many of the numerous licenses Lego has used over the years.

The majority of the movie alternates between some impressively done action set pieces and humorous conversations that both help progress the plot and serve as a source of jokes. As far as the action goes, co-directors and writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Who also helmed the first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and the recent 21 Jump Street film) take full advantage of the outlandish world they create, with characters being capable of whipping together elaborate vehicles and objects from spare bricks at lightning speed, and using them in clever, exciting, and funny ways.

Going into the movie, while I didn't expect it to look terrible, I figured that a bunch of environments made of nothing but Legos wouldn't be too exciting. Thankfully, a lot of effort and enthusiasm from the animation team clearly went into the finished product. The various worlds the cast visits, from the initial city setting to the outlandish and vibrant Cloud Cuckoo Land, are varied, appealing, and impressively elaborate. Clever little touches, like smoke and water also made of bricks, add to the fun.

It also helps that a lot of the jokes work. Be they dialog or physical humor, I was alternating between laughing and having a big smile on my face very often. The film has a genuine spark and energy to its faster-paced scenes, of which there are numerous, and again, full advantage is taken of its unorthodox world to come up with fun situations and punchlines.

The voice cast also delivers in spades. One character, or rather two, that I haven't mentioned yet, is Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), who switches personalities by turning his head around to reveal a different face and voice. The hard-edged action persona Neeson has established for himself over the years, along with his natural gruff voice, suits Bad Cop perfectly, and I was surprised to learn afterwards that he performed the higher-pitched and gentler-sounding Good Cop's voice as well.

Morgan Freeman also has fun lampooning the wise old mystic archetype, and Will Arnett's Batman is an appropriate mix between Christian Bale's trademark growl and past interpretations, such as voice actor Kevin Conroy from the acclaimed 1990s animated series. As Emmet, Chris Pratt is charmingly likable in his naivete and enthusiasm, and Charlie Day manages to make the simple-sounding idea of screaming the word "spaceship" repeatedly into one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

If there's a downside to all of this, it's that the movie may feel overly frenetic to some. I do feel that the characters, as fun and well-performed as they were, were generally simple and one-note, with little genuine development save for one particular character at the end. I also didn't get much of an emotional reaction when the movie tried to get more dramatic at certain parts, though, as I've seen reactions online from people who admitted to crying, your mileage may easily vary.

There's one other big thing that's worth noting if you haven't heard about it already. Much like Frozen, this has something that I consider a rarity in most family animated films, and that is a genuine major third-act twist that turns a lot of things, including how you can perceive the entire story, on their heads. I'm obviously not going to give it away, but I had seen some hints dropped regarding it before I went and saw the movie, and I think that going in expecting some sort of late-game revelation may have actually benefitted my enjoyment of the film, since I probably would have been thrown off for a few minutes by it otherwise. It's actually possible to guess the twist beforehand, thanks to a couple of clues the film throws at you before the reveal, so just go in knowing that there's an interesting reveal, but don't go so far as to ruin the surprise.

Perhaps the most commendable thing about The Lego Movie is that it doesn't simply coast on nostalgia or the appeal the Lego brand holds for many young and old. While it certainly utilizes that, is also coasts on its own creativity and humor. While the lack of depth holds it back from being a classic in my eyes, I still was thoroughly entertained by it, and if you have younger kids via family or friends who are in the mood to go see a movie, this is a very good pick.

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