The Lego Movie

Perhaps it is no surprise that in the sixty years since the launch of Lego, it has permeated almost every corner of popular culture. As children, Action Man, Barbie and Dinky may have provided more accurate facsimiles for playmates or replicas of Thunderbird 2 and Eagle transporters, but Lego was adaptable and reusable, endlessly reborn as increasingly complex creations as the minds of the children using it grew in complexity and ambition, and unlike many cherished possessions now turned to rags and debris, Lego was practically indestructible.

The first entries into licensed products came in 1999, the year the spinoff Duplo range aimed its Winnie the Pooh sets at younger children, while the parent range released the first Star Wars sets, ostensibly for younger children but with many in a price bracket undeniably requiring the purchasing power of their parents. Since then, brickwork foundations have been laid in with DC Universe, Marvel Universe, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and many others, some of them reverse engineered back into videogame and animated interpretations.

And so, inevitably, Lego has returned to itself, an animated adventure based on the excitement and versatility of a pile of plastic bricks, and with even the studio logo recreated in Lego it’s a wholly realised world in hard plastic, but as construction worker Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt, soon to be seen as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy) discovers, the built in limitations of their structure means that nobody is able to move beyond their design, his construction team entirely reliant on the instruction booklets as they go about their formulaic lives, drinking overpriced coffee, singing the same anthem that “everything is awesome,” victims of corporate conditioning.

Seeing a trespasser on his worksite after hours, Emmet follows her to investigate but falls into a pit where he discovers the Piece of Resistance, a mythical object not made of Lego, which attaches himself to his back.

Awakening in the custody of Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), Emmet learns that Lord Business (Will Ferrell) is planning to freeze all changes in Bricksburg using the Kragle, and that only the Piece of Resistance can stop him.

Rescued by WyldStyle (Elizabeth Banks), the woman who accidentally led him to the Piece of Resistance which she was seeking, she takes him to meet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), one of the Master Builders whose creativity and ability to think beyond the blocks was a threat to Lord Business.

Believing Emmet to be one of the Master Builders, they are disappointed when he demonstrates no flair, but with Bad Cop in pursuit, WyldStyle’s gruff overachieving boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett) helps flee to a meeting of the surviving builders in Cloud Cuckoo Land, and the chase is on.

With access across the Lego range, the assemblage of characters is unparalleled, with cameos from Channing Tatum’s Superman, Jonah Hill’s Green Lantern, Cobie Smulder’s Wonder Woman, Todd Hansen’s Gandalf, Keith Ferguson’s Han Solo and Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams reprising their roles as C-3P0 and Lando Calrissian, all of them vying for their time in the limelight, all of them wanting to be part of the team yet inevitably squabbling like children.

The versatility of the medium allows no limit to what can be shown, yet the characters never forget that they are Lego (“You see the sarcastic quotations I’m making with my claw-like hands?”), the cracks in the fourth wall exploding in the final act as the true identity of Lord Business and the fearful presence of “the man upstairs” is revealed. That the finale is predictable does not diminish it, acknowledging that while Lego can be enjoyed by adults they should not forget it was intended for children, with a final laugh provided when that inclusiveness is extended further still.

While not as smartly scripted as Mr Peabody & Sherman, the joy of The Lego Movie is its boundless enthusiasm and ability to cross genres and reference a plethora of popular culture and historical touchstones, from Abraham Lincoln updating his 1858 “house divided” speech to WyldStyle deliberately avoiding quoting Sarah Connor with her introduction “Come with me if you want to not die,” the only thing which could prevent anyone from enjoying the film is their own preconceptions of what it they can make of it.

The Lego movie is now on general release



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