By STEPHANIE RADKE ’15
There comes a point in February when you find yourself dragging. The snow has morphed into grey sloppy slush. Midterms are fast approaching, and there’s no break until March. The prospects at the local cinema are equally bleak—Oscar season has faded, leaving nothing but action films and romantic comedies of varying quality in its wake. “Where are all the fun movies?” one wonders. “The ones where I leave the theater with a smile on my face rather than a feeling of ennui?” Well, you’re in luck. “The Lego Movie” is that movie.
“The Lego Movie” tells the story of Emmet (Chris Pratt), a Lego figure content to fit in with the rest of Lego society, buying overpriced coffee and watching the same stupid sitcoms as everyone else in town. When Emmet accidentally happens upon the “Piece of Resistance,” he is deemed “the Special”—the one Lego who can successfully lead a rebellion against the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and his henchman Bad Cop (Liam Neeson). Emmet is joined in the effort by a group of Master Builders, Legos who can build anything they want without relying on instructions. The group is led by wise Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett).
The inclusion of Batman in this group of rebels hints at one of the most enjoyable aspects of this film. As Lego holds the rights to a wide variety of characters and settings, the film is chock-a-block with recognizable figures; I found myself constantly resisting the urge to point at the screen and giggle each time a new character appeared. In addition to Batman, the council of Master Builders contains Wonder Woman, Abraham Lincoln and Shaquille O’Neal. Each characterization takes a jab at the persona of the original character—Batman, for instance, comments on all that we love to mock about Batman, from his self-regard to the overemphasis of his tragic backstory. Nick Offerman voices a pirate with a shark for a leg and a metal beard.
The jokes in the movie are great because they tickle the funny bones of adults and children in the audience. This is also true of the numerous visual gags sprinkled throughout the movie, some of which speed by so quickly that you find yourself wishing you could rewind to see them again. The animators clearly had fun creating their world, as evidenced by both the shots which take in an entire Lego city and the specific ways the individual characters move. The animation of some of the more complex scenes left me wondering, “How did they do that?” or simply echoing the kids sitting next to me: “Whoa.”
The film’s visuals successfully capture the whimsy of playing with Legos and the excitement of creating a new world out of something as unlikely as a bunch of tiny bricks. At the same time, there were moments when I found myself wishing that the film’s script was freed from narrative structures. A twist toward the final third of the movie feels a bit heavy handed, as if the filmmakers wanted to make absolutely sure the audience would grasp the moral of the story. I wish the filmmakers had trusted the audience a bit more and allowed us more time in their visual playground.
Despite this quibble, “The Lego Movie” made a deep impression on me, reminding me what I love about films. The movie left me excited to go forth and create, whether by writing or by diving into a huge pile of Lego. All in all, “The Lego Movie” provides the perfect antidote to the February doldrums by reminding us to go out and play.