The Lego Movie is so far the year’s biggest surprise. A film based on a popular toy brand has proved disastrous in the past (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship), and while a film such as this could have easily been a cash grab designed to sell products, The Lego Movie is a very fun film with strong humor and a relieving self-consciousness that is definitely one of the best animated feature films in years.
The major strength of The Lego Movie is its humor. The film’s humor is very satirical of genre stereotypes, children’s films, and generic plot points. While there are many films that attempt to parody these stereotypes, The Lego Movie offers a satire that is relevant to recent films, for example the film features parodies of obnoxious songs overused in children’s film (a clear satire of Frozen) or the lack of adult language used in children’s films. There are also several clever parodies at many aspects of popular culture, such as generic television shows or the problems of an everyday lifestyle. Additionally, the film follows a very generic plot that allows it to parody the stereotypical plot points that a film would follow. The satirical humor of the film is its major advantage over other recent animated films and overall makes it more entertaining.
The visuals are also very impressive. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller clearly made an effort to create rich environments that impressively resemble stop motion animation. The affect of this helps make individual sequences flow better and gives the film a good sense of comedy and goofiness. The visual style of the film works very well because of the screenplay, which allows several bizarre concepts to work for the quirky style of the film. The score is also very interesting and helps the film to maintain its pacing.
An added bonus to the humor of the film is its impressive voice cast, which is great amongst its large cast. Chris Pratt does an excellent job as the lead character Emmet and does an excellent job making the character unique, as does Elizabeth Banks as the co-lead Lucy. Also impressive are Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson, who both do an excellent job as the film’s villains and surprisingly have a lot of range, as well as providing a large quantity of hilarious moments and exchanges. However, the standout performance is Will Arnett as Batman, who manages to perfectly parody the superhero concept and it’s more absurd elements. Arnett also uses a gravelly voice similar to Christian Bale’s that helps satirize the most recent Batman films.
The films flaws are ironically derived from its stronger elements, for example the film has many strong characters, leaving its weaker characters, such as the obnoxious “Unikitty”, exposed as poorly written characters. There are also some jokes from the first half of the film that are unfortunately not carried over to the second half. While the film does a brilliant job at parodying the pitfalls of a generic plot, it often does so by imitating those stereotypes within the film. This attempt to imitate the ordinary plot points is admirable, but sometimes the film goes too far with the joke to the extent that it doesn’t feel like a parody anymore. An example of this is the quintessential “All is Lost” moment before the climax where the characters question themselves. The parodies of these moments are attempted, but ultimately fall flat and detract from the film.
Overall, The Lego Movie is a very well written and thoroughly enjoyable film that is entertaining for adults, and to lesser extent children. The humor and visuals make The Lego Movie vastly superior to other animated films, and allow it to provide a very unique experience and avoid the melodrama of many animated films that emphasize drama instead of providing it. It may be way too early, but The Lego Movie is deserving of an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Grade: +B