Sometimes animated films can be two different things depending on your age. For the younger audience they want something with silly humour, brightly animated and punchy music. Adults want something that is not dumb, peppered with sophisticated humour and not too many annoying songs that their kids will sing ad nauseum. It makes sense that The Lego Movie, directed by Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and Christopher Miller 21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), falls into the category of animated film that appeals to both young and old.
Lego is something that almost every generation has had some experience with. Since their debut in 1949 the interlocking, bricklike plastic pieces have been used to build almost anything young and older minds could imagine. Their appeal has led to almost every kid of both sexes having a memory of playing with the brightly coloured plastic bricks making everything from castles to spaceships to cars out of them. The potential of the pieces is only limited by one’s imagination. For this reason people continue playing with Lego into adulthood.
The maker of the film seem conscious of the fact that they can appeal to multiple age groups with The Lego Movie and they mine that potential for all it is worth. For the kids they get a very straight out of the mind of a child story that is easy to follow (an underdog goes up against a rather non-threatening villain), young adults will enjoy the superhero stuff and the fact that Will Ferrell provides a voice while for the adults they get some clever sight gags involving pop culture articles.
Emmet (Christ Pratt – Her, Wanted) is a regular kind of Lego piece, who dreams of making a real connection with his fellow Legoites. He is a faceless construction figure who wants to be more. Being in the right place at the right time leads him to be thought to the “Special”, a master builder who Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman – The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy) has prophesized will save the world. The future of the world is in jeopardy due to Lord Business’s (Will Ferrell – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Other Guys) putting a plan in motion, with the help of his right hand man Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson – Taken, Batman Begins), to destroy it on Taco Tuesday. With the help of Vitruvius and his new friends Wyldstyle/Lucy (Elizabeth Banks – The Hunger Games, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Batman (Will Arnett – from television’s Arrested Development) he is going to try and be the hero that they need.
Visually this is not the smooth and lifelike animation that we’ve become used to. And that is not a criticism; rather it was obviously done intentionally to make everything including the backgrounds look like they were made out of Legos. It is Legos as far as the eye can see. I saw the 2D version and can tell you that it was pleasing to the eye. It is bright, colourful
What really surprised me about the film was the final 20 minutes or so when it changed to largely live action and focused on a father-son relationship. There is also the allusion to how growing up and becoming an adult kills the child in all of us. It was funny (of course), but was also rather touching and tender. Also daring of them to try this serious stuff for if it wasn’t up to the standards of the humour it would probably sour people’s take on the entire film. Fortunately for filmmakers and film goers it is great and adds to the film. It allowed there to be more depth than I thought they were going for.
The minds behind this film have succeeded on every level with The Lego Movie. They have accomplished the difficult task of making a film that is appealing to every age. In some instances mom and dad might like it better than junior or junioress. This is due to the fun they poke at life today filled with grotesquely overpriced coffee and hectic commutes to work. Everything has been thought of, but not in that formulaic way that makes you think they are just checking the boxes rather in the clicking on all cylinders fashion. No matter your age you will laugh plenty at the alternately silly and clever moments layered pretty much back to back. The energy level is kept pretty high throughout so you never felt any lulls.