“The Lego Movie” is so far the best film of the year

I wasn’t sure what to think about “The Lego Movie” when it was first announced. After all, films based upon toys don’t have a stellar track record, with movies like “Battleship” and “Bratz” coming to mind when you think of the genre. Surprisingly, “The Lego Movie” breaks that trend.  Directed by the duo behind “21 Jump Street” and the “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” series, “The Lego Movie” is a star-studded action-comedy romp that ranks as one of the finest CGI films in recent memory.

Our main character Emmet is just an ordinary Lego guy. In fact, he’s a little too ordinary. He’s spent his entire life doing what everyone told him to do and doesn’t have an original thought in his body. After touching a mysterious brick, Emmet is thrown into a plot to save the world from destruction at the hands of the diabolical President Business. Hilarity ensues.

“The Lego Movie” is targeted squarely at people who grew up with Legos. The film is loaded with references to different eras of Legos and feels like a love letter to people who spent their childhoods playing with them. Those who never played with Legos will miss out on many of the winks at the audience, but it’s an action-packed and sidesplitting ride regardless.

“The Lego Movie” is genuinely hilarious. The jokes are cleverly written and they slide in some sly adult humor that’ll be sure to elicit laughs from older audience members.  It’s not just funny for a kid’s movie; it can stand alongside some of the best comedies of the last several years. The cast, which includes names like Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson, all nail the material they’re given. Special props must be given to Will Arnett for his amusingly tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman.

The comedy is complemented by some fantastic action sequences. It feels weird to praise a Lego movie for the quantity and quality of its action, but it’s surprising just how well they pull it off. There’s a constant barrage of chase and fight scenes that feature the heroes repurposing their weapons and vehicles on the fly, and it’s all very satisfying to watch.

Though a kid’s movie on the surface, “The Lego Movie” features some surprisingly astute satire. Much like our own world, the Lego world is a bright and colorful place filled with overpriced goods, too much conformity, and a lot of repetitive pop music. Despite being the equivalent of a feature-length toy commercial, the film offers some clever commentary on contemporary society. You could argue that the film is a bit heavy-handed (the villain is named President Business after all), but the social commentary is well thought-out and never annoying.

Ironically, what might be the film’s only real issue is that it’s too ambitious. It’s very difficult to discuss without spoiling the ending, but suffice it to say that the film has an unorthodox close. The story reaches a dizzying pace in the third act and then grinds to a halt in the last fifteen minutes while the filmmakers go for broke and try to pull off an unusual twist ending. The setup for the twist is more than solid, but the way they go about it comes across as awkward and it messes up the film’s pacing.

Even if it stumbles a little at the end, “The Lego Movie” is still a great way to spend an hour and forty minutes. Its visuals are dazzling, the jokes are sidesplitting, and the ensemble cast delivers standout performances. It’s the perfect movie for Lego fans and is also an excellent action-comedy on its own merits.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

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