If you’ve seen “Toy Story 3,” think about the first scene that shows what’s going through Andy’s mind while he’s playing with his toys. Now imagine a feature length movie like that, but more random and with Legos. Of course, it’s a stupid idea. It shouldn’t work. But somehow, it does.
“The Lego Movie,” which is currently the best-reviewed movie of 2014, tells the story of Emmett, an every day construction worker whose “face is so generic, he matches every other face” in the Lego universe. There’s nothing that sticks out about him, and people tend to make that fact pretty known.
However, he has to keep a smile on, just like everyone else, and go through life pretending that “everything is awesome,” which is the title of the movie’s theme song. If you saw “Frozen” and got “Let It Go” stuck in your head, I guarantee this song will push it out and stay lodged in your cranium for at least a week.
Emmett’s world is turned upside down when he finds the “Piece of Resistance,” an object that is so instrumental in saving the world that its obtainer becomes known as “The Special.” The Special, according to a not-so-ancient prophecy, is said to be the “most interesting and important person in the universe.”
After being told he is The Special, he sets off on an adventure with the rebellious WyldStyle, the wise Vitrivius, and a whole slew of other unique characters, to stop President Business from making the world conform to his image of perfection.
If this sounds like it was written by a hyperactive, imaginative five-year-old, well, that’s basically what the movie feels like. But, that’s the point. It recreates the feeling of being a kid playing Legos, whether you were someone who followed the instructions strictly or chose to venture off and build something new. It does it while injecting the zany, irreverent humor of “Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken,” and incorporating the biting social satire of “South Park.” Of course, the jokes are age-appropriate, but the humor is still there.
One thing about comedy movies is that the timing of bits tend to become faster as time goes on. “The Lego Movie” takes the pace of comedy movies nowadays and accelerates it so fast, you may need to watch it a second time to catch every joke.
You don’t get time to breathe between gags and since this movie was from the minds of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of “21 Jump Street,” I didn’t expect anything less than fast-paced, modernized humor, which is quickly becoming their trademark.
The satire on society is similar to that of “The Truman Show” and “Idiocracy,” but with the added kick of being based on a product specific to one company. It’s like creating a Coca-Cola film that makes fun of corporate capitalism. Does this make the movie’s message of fighting business hypocritical? Maybe, or it could all be a part of bigger, meta joke that some people aren’t catching. There is some debate over “The Lego Movie” being designed only to sell Lego products, but really, what franchise movie isn’t a feature length commercial for other products? If you’re going to see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with a younger sibling, chances are that Marvel wants you to at least buy the kid an action figure or notebook based on it.
Warner Brothers’ erratic and absurd animated films have long been recognized as the counter to Disney’s graceful, precise animation, and “The Lego Movie” stops at nothing to continue that tradition.
It’s “Toy Story” on caffeine pills, while incorporating more pop culture references and characters from various franchises than you can possibly expect. And if you are sitting in a theatre and can’t get over the fact that you are watching moving Legos, there’s a touching scene toward the end that grounds the story and explains almost everything. Almost.