Friday, Feb. 7 (Warner Bros.)
Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
After successfully testing the computer-animated waters on the smaller screen with the likes of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Ninjago, not to mention a series of hit video games, everybody’s favorite Danish interlocking brick system has finally been transformed into a big 3D animated feature—with wildly entertaining results.
Arriving at a time when feature animation was looking and feeling mighty anemic—essentially reconnecting the same dots until the next big thing comes along—The LEGO Movie shows ’em how it’s done.
It’s a non-stop blast from beginning to end, jam-packed with a wacky irreverence, dazzling state-of-the-art CGI (courtesy of Animal Logic) and a pitch-perfect voice cast headed by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Ferrell.
Backed by an army of executive producers, the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow presentation should translate beautifully into whatever corner of the earth it plays, with a laugh-and-you’ll-likely-miss-something potential for repeat viewings.
Not that there was ever much doubt about co-directors and writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being the right guys for the job, having previously surprised with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, but their gift for inspired lunacy hits fresh, imaginative heights in the anything-goes LEGO universe.
Serving as the idealistic heart of the picture is Emmet (endearingly voiced by Pratt) a sweet but generic regular guy of a LEGO minifigure with a prodigiously empty mind, blissfully content to let instruction manuals be his guide.
And that’s just the way President Business (Ferrell) wants it. A control freak of a CEO with world domination on his mind, his obsessive disdain for creative expression has turned him into the maniacal Lord Business, whose bidding his carried out by the swivel-headed Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson).
But Emmet’s non-descript life is about to find meaning in a construction excavation pit when he stumbles across the elusive Piece of Resistance and, in the process, is earmarked as The Special–the one prophesied to reunite the great Master Builders and remove Lord Business from power before he destroys their various worlds.
Joining Emmet on his reluctant quest is the sassy, butt-kicking Wyldstyle (Banks), whose rebellious streak is represented by the hot-pink and turquoise ones in her hair; and Vitruvius, a blind, hippy-dippy sage (a hilariously loose Morgan Freeman).
They’re soon joined by Wyldstyle’s bf, Batman (a terrifically self-absorbed Will Arnett), and the cringingly sweet Unikitty (Alison Brie) who presides over the no-rules Cloud Cuckoo Land, along with numerous special guests.
Not only do Master Builders Lord & Miller, who crafted the script from a story by Dan Hageman &Kevin Hageman (Hotel Transylvania) manage keep all those careening bricks in the air with crack comic precision, they sneak in an affecting third act reveal that’s absolutely in lockstep with the venerable brand’s creative spirit.
It’s also vibrantly captured by those millions of LEGO pieces rendered, brick-by-brick, by Australia’s Animal Logic, whether taking the inherently three-dimensional form of a fiery explosion or, most vividly, a stormy, undulating LEGO sea.
Production companies: Village Roadshow Pictures, LEGO System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures
Voice cast: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman
Directors-screenwriters: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Executive producers: Jill Wilfert, Matthew Ashton, Kathleen Fleming, Allison Abbate, Zareh Nalbandian, Jon Burton, Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Seanne Winslow, Matt Skiena, Bruce Berman
Producers: Dan Lin, Roy Lee
Director of photography: Pablo Plaisted
Production designer: Grant Freckelton
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Editors: David Burrows, Chris McKay
Rated PG, 100 minutes.