Going to the cinema with high expectations and finding that the film meets them in full always inspires a priceless sense of fulfilment. When I watched The LEGO Movie, in February 2014, my expectations were actually exceeded. The film is a success for many different reasons, thanks to its many layers of meaning; it gives the audience not only what they want, but also what they don’t know they want just yet. The story, focused on different aspects of the LEGO experience, combines impeccable CGI action, surprisingly sharp social critique, and a heart-warming message.
As if this wasn’t enough, it’s directed by 21 Jump Street’s hot duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and its voice cast includes Chris Pratt (you’ll see him in Guardians of the Galaxy soon), Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett. Plus Morgan Freeman voicing Vitruvius, the half-looney half-prophet wizard. And did I mention Liam Neeson playing Bad Cop (or Good Cop, depending on what turn his interrogation takes)? Considering the past results in developing a cinematic product based on well-established brands (mostly hit and miss, to use an understatement), the outcome is astonishingly positive. The LEGO Movie has become Warner Bros. Pictures’ most commercially successful animated film, grossing almost $500 million worldwide, and soon due for release on DVD and Blu-ray. Extra content is meagre on the DVD version (limited to three amateur shorts and the film’s main song singalong video) but surely more abundant and exciting in the Blu-ray version, yet, either way, it’s well worth saving this film a spot on your shelf.
The LEGO Movie’s story develops the proverbial “Everyman turns into hero” arch in three acts: the film opens presenting Emmet, an ordinary construction worker who lives following instructions. President Business tells him (and all citizens) what to do and decides what should make him happy, and Emmet is ecstatic to comply: he buys overpriced coffee, endlessly quotes awful sitcom catchphrases, sings to the most annoying (and most memorable) tune in the history of made-to-be-abhorred songs, happily follows every precept of his society in order to fit in. Sounds like the world surrounding you, doesn’t it? Well, Emmet also happens to be the “Chosen One”, he who is revealed will save the LEGO universe from the threat of Business’ secret weapon: superglue. Along with a team of whacky rebels, Emmet will travel across lands in a journey of self-discovery, personal growth and meta-reflections on the spirit of LEGO as a product. With a closing moral that poignantly celebrates art for art’s sake.
Who initially thought that all this is just product placement may want to take a closer look: The LEGO Movie doesn’t make you want to buy and play LEGO, it just makes you want to watch the film again and again. You can’t get enough of its hilarious and nipping approach, elevating even the most mundane stuff into joie de vivre: from special effects entirely made of LEGO (explosions, smoke, fire, and even the shower’s water) and over-the-top action sequences, to countless cool references to pop culture and the history of LEGO (Benny, the “1980-something space guy” with an obsession for building spaceships, wears an helmet cracked in the exact spot where real-life LEGO pieces would usually break).
I could go on forever. The LEGO Movie is the kind of film that you find yourself quoting as soon as you leave the cinema: “And when this happens… and when Vitruvius says… and when Batman does this and that…”. Oh boy, I feel like I’m 10 again. At that age I had a few cherished VHS of animated classics that I never grew tired of watching: The Sword in the Stone, 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, Toy Story. If I were that boy now, The LEGO Movie would surely earn a place among them.
The LEGO Movie will be available on Blu-ray (3D & 2D) and DVD from Monday, July 21st.