Popular Toy-Based Film Builds An Animated ‘Block-Buster’

When you first heard that Lego, an empire company that’s already branched its brand out to the worlds of video games, theme parks, clothing, books and board games, was set to release a film based around their product, it may have seemed like a transparent attempt to capitalize on the millions of dollars to be had in the animated family flick world.

That line of thinking would make sense, as recent years have brought us films based on household toy names such as “Transformers,” “G.I. Joe” and “Battleship,” each making incredible profits while doing little in the way of providing audiences with something of substance. “The Lego Movie” could have quite easily followed in those films’ footsteps, grabbing a few big names, mailing in a plot and slapping on the brand name that’s been around since 1949, but refreshingly, that was not the case.

Writer and director duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, previously responsible for “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the 2012 remake of “21 Jump Street,” served as the creative minds behind “The Lego Movie,” and they leave their fingerprints all over it. Some of the biggest names in currently comedy and cinema, including Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman, serve as the voices behind the Lego characters.

“The Lego Movie” tells a somewhat generic underdog-becomes-the-hero tale, but that’s about the extent of what this movie is lacking in the creativity department. Lord and Miller are becoming experts at taking a concept you probably think you wouldn’t want to see adapted as a movie and then knocking it out of the park. First, they created “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” based on a short children’s book, then “21 Jump Street,” based on a less-than-stellar late 80’s TV show and now with “The Lego Movie,” based on multicolored interlocking blocks.

“Everything is Awesome” is the nauseatingly infectious song playing on Emmet Brickowski’s (Chris Pratt) car radio in the beginning of the movie, which is essentially the theme song for the entire movie. From there, the audience is treated to 100 minutes of unadulterated frenetic energy, trying its best, and succeeding, at putting a grin on your face. Fast dialogue, layered jokes and references, cameos from pop culture figures ranging from Han Solo to Abe Lincoln to Shaq and plenty of familiar celebrity voices all make this not only worth watching, but re-watching. 

Pixar has owned the animated film domain for the past two decades, creating the formula by which most other studios aim to perfect. It has been long accepted now that these “cartoons” are no longer just for children, but are constructed to appeal to all ages through use of serious themes and ploys to tug at the viewer’s heart strings.  “The Lego Movie” breaks that mold, even crossing a boundary Pixar has yet to cross, aiming its sights at one thing only: fun.