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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Lego Movie Review: An Immaculate Construction.

It's that good, people. Lord and Miller have done it again. For the third time in a row, they have taken an idea that has no right being tolerable, and made it awesome. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs should have been a soulless, by-the-numbers, shanking of a beloved children's book that's barely 20 pages long.

But I loved it's manic energy, genuine pathos, and masterful comic timing so much... I think an 87% isn't nearly high enough. Though to be fair it was an 80% 5 years ago, good to know some folks recanted. And while I thought 21 Jump Street was a bit of a step backwards in terms of story telling for them, it was still funny as hell. The funniest movie of that year by far. And it's worth pointing out that it bites the hand the feeds both frequently and viciously. But it's done so carefully it's disguised as a winking nudge. But it isn't. 21-JS was a film that despised it's own reason for existing. But that wouldn't stop it from being the best little reboot it could possibly be. That in-itself would have been enough for my seal of approval. Regardless of the ironically inclusive hipster bullies, Ellie Kemper's adorably horny chemistry teacher, and Jonah Hill singing show tunes on speed.

They even show up for 5 seconds as Superman and uh... that other guy.

So yeah, I've been following these guys for a while now. I didn't know what to expect from The Lego Movie for years, and suddenly I saw Rotten Tomatoes drowning in gleefully rave reviews. I was pumped, provided I got off work early enough, I thought I'd catch a really late show to A. finally see what this "darkly meta" 3rd act twist was all about and B. feel like less of a creep seeing it without any kids in the audience. Believe it or not, there were quite a few 6 year olds at a 10:50 show. So now you know that.

But even with all the hype and after devouring all the trailers and clips, I still have to say that nearly everything about this movie was awesome. Sure, almost all the best jokes are in the marketing material. Sure, I figured out the twist a third of the way through. Sure, I may not want to sit through it again just yet. But I'll say this, it earned all the hype it's got.

This was pretty much my expression for a solid 100 minutes.
Our unassuming hero is a construction worker named Emmet. A perfectly normal guy, who hides his crippling loneliness under a cheerfully aggressive need to constantly "follow the instructions." There's instructions for everything in Brickburg. From brushing your teeth, to greeting the day, to nonchalantly referencing last night's hit sitcom to your co-workers. He believes that if he follows them closely enough, everyone will like him. Or at the very least... someone might like him. But no, nobody likes Emmet. He's just too normal. But soon he stumbles upon an ancient relic known only as the "piece of resistance" and becomes the most interesting, most important, and most intelligent person who has ever lived: "The Special." Only he and a rag tag army of fellow master builders can take on President Lord-Business and avert a world wide apocalyptic event called T.A.C.O.S. Tuesday. The S is silent.

It's worth pointing out that the fact a film like this could get middling reviews is a minor miracle. This should be a po-faced, by-comitee, feature length commercial. And yet it's an absolute joy. Everything in the film is made out of legos. The ocean, water droplets, fire, smoke plumes, explosions, and hair flips. All Lego, all the time. It's glorious. The voice work is solid across the board. Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pratt are both delights, no surprise there. Allison Brie plays something called a "uni-kitty" Charlie Day killed me just by manically screaming the word "Spaceship!" and Nick Offerman is a pirate. If you're still not sold, then you clearly had your sense of humor surgically removed for some sort of elective frowning prosthetic and are now well beyond my help.

But if you were worried Morgan Freeman would stick out a little too much surrounded by these golden idols of comedy... yeah. You were half right. But the other half? The other half is just so damn funny it makes his stunt casting seem like a long con. I wouldn't put it past the directors if that were the case.

If you think the LA critic intelligentsia are just drinking a bunch of PR Kool-aide, you're wrong. If you think the rest of us are just chiming in on what all the cool kids are talking about, you're wrong. The Lego Movie is a heartfelt, achingly funny, celebration of a child's imagination. If you remember what you saw in your head when you played with legos back in the day, you're gonna have a blast. Just try not to think too hard about the studio politics that put the trailer for Morgan Freeman's new nature doc right in front of it.

So don't uh... don't think about it! Look, Motorcycle!

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