The Lego Movie ★★★★

I’m not quite sure how Phil Lord and Christopher Miller do it. They take terrible ideas - updating a forgettable and forgotten ‘80s TV show or making a feature-length toy commercial - and turn them into brilliant and witty works of entertainment. In any normal world a movie about a construction toy should not work yet once again Lord and Miller prove that with a little imagination anything is possible.

As a huge fan of the directors’ last foray into animation (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) I was curious how they would bring their irreverent and manic style of comedy to what would typically amount to a very expensive promotional tool. Smartly they have simply embraced what has made Lego such a perennial favourite amongst children - the boundless possibilities it offers those that play with it.

Via a madcap dash through Lego’s most famous playsets they’ve created a film that is not only funny but one that is both inspiring and nostalgic for those old enough to remember playing with 1980-Something Space Guy first time around. It’s a film that positively revels in what makes the product so special yet does so in a way that never once feels like a cynically produced commercial.

The Lego Movie mockingly follows the Hero’s Journey as Emmet, a generic construction worker, discovers he is the Special One. United with a team of heroes he must stop Lord Business’ evil plan to superglue the world together forever. Knowingly and openly riffing on the tired blockbuster template the film references the likes of Star Wars and The Matrix as Emmet discovers his destiny.

Lord and Miller don’t mess with success as they follow the same frenetic and absurd tone of their previous films. At times it is like watching the film in fast-forward as it hurtles through gag after gag as the audience struggle to keep up. Due to the sheer pace of the movie some naturally don’t hit their mark but for every misfire there are plenty more that deliver. Whether it is a sight gag, blink and you’ll miss it reference or throwaway line, the film is littered with comedy gems that will no doubt demand repeated viewings.

The film’s hyperactive energy never lets up and nor does the imaginative uses of famous minifigures and playsets. In lesser hands these cameos would come across as cynical product placement but here each new introduction simply adds to the freewheeling charm. Whether it is Batman being a brooding jerk (with Will Arnett stealing most scenes) or Abraham Lincoln on a flying chair, every character gets their moment to shine.

The computer generated animation is brimming with colour and loving little details. It is the perfect recreation of a Lego world with stiff jerky movements and a shiny plastic sheen. It is almost a shame the film moves at such a pace because it means you often miss all the incidental details, particularly during some of the more elaborately constructed set pieces.

In many ways the film reminded me of A Town Called Panic, not only in its stiff and stilted characters but in its surreal and irreverent tone. What is perhaps even more impressive about The Lego Movie is how it appeals to both young and old alike. All ages can enjoy the sheer spectacle, frenetic pacing and endless procession of gags but there is a nostalgic element to the film that will probably make many adults wistful for those times when they spent hours building impossible spaceships (SPACESHIPS!) out of a random assortment of multicoloured bricks.

Without trying to spoil the film’s ending, it is a smart and logical conclusion given all the fantastical things that precede it. Although a little too cheesy and sentimental it’s hard to imagine a more fitting conclusion and it even delivers a worthy message too - everybody has the potential to be special and sometimes it is best to just throw away the instruction manual.

The Lego Movie is a film that shouldn’t work but all the pieces fit together perfectly to create a deliriously daft and joyous experience for the whole family. Everything really is awesome!

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