Everything falls into place for the entertaining 'Lego Movie'

February 16, 2014

In our post-Transformers society, it seemed as though we were about to be flooded with every childhood item threatened to be greenlit into film form. Everything from “Ouija,” to “Candy Land” to “Monopoly” was rumored to hit the big screen. Fortunately for us, many of those projects hit various roadblocks on their way to development. The only one that made it through was “Battleship,” sinking a boat-sized nail in the coffin of many future projects.

Thankfully, “The Lego Movie” squeaked by, for it’s a film that’s as fun as a just-completed playset in the hands of an 8 year old.

Set in the sprawling Legoland universe, which has made blockheads of virtually every popular film and every mundane facet of society, the citizens within “The Lego Movie” are presided over by the megalomaniacal President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell), who rules with an iron first … well, actually more like a tiny plastic crab claw found on all Lego characters, but you get the idea.

Emmett (voiced by Chris Pratt) is just an ordinary construction worker who stumbles into a heroic role after meeting the mysterious Wyldestyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), who disrupts his structured lifestyle by introducing him to the all-knowing, benevolent Virtuvius (voiced by, who else, Morgan Freeman). They team with a host of characters from famous (Batman, Superman, and many others who shall not be revealed here) to forgotten (‘80s Astronaut, Lakers-era Shaquille O’Neal) to gain control over a mysterious piece that could change their world’s destiny.

Even those vaguely familiar with Joseph Campbell’s monomyth know: its the journey and not necessarily the destination, and with years of building blocks from which to choose, the possibilities are endless and writer/directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord try to cram as many as they can in the film’s 98-minute runtime. It may seem like a Herculean task, but when you consider these guys made manic mayhem out of a mundane children's book (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) and a raunchy romp out of a pop-culture pit stop (“21 Jump Street”), you soon realize they are exactly the right choice.

The two seem to have spent many an hour of their childhood snapping together those bright little bricks, as they seem to capture not only the charm of the toys, but also the act of playing with them once they are used. The beauty of Legos is that you can stick to the directions and construct items exactly as they are diagrammed, or you can just start cobbling pieces willy-nilly into fantastical, nonsensical creations that even the Island of Misfit Toys would find shocking (like, say, a pirate character with a shark for one hand and a cannon for another).

The screenplay for “The Lego Movie” is constructed in such a manner, with random segues into various worlds within for no other reason but to play. And while it is colorfully chaotic, it also takes time in the third act for a welcomed bit of poignancy featuring live actors that further tap into the overwhelming appeal of these little pieces that have kept generations occupied for hours on end.

I will admit, I stepped into “The Lego Movie” much the same way I step barefoot into a room in which my son has just been using them… with extreme caution. But it won me over in mere minutes and, like a perfectly constructed set, everything fell right into place.