Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directing team behind 21 Jump Street and its recent sequel, are at their best when coaxing their films into an amiable frenzy. The Lego Movie marks their return to animation after 2009’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and what a return it is. When Miller and Lord are really cooking, the sight gags and one-liners come at you so fast it’s like a 1930s screwball comedy crossed with a Michel Gondry music video.The Lego Movie could have been an easy shill for a company that’s had a well-deserved corner on the toy market for decades. Instead, it’s one of the quickest-witted animated movies in recent years.
Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary worker in a consumerist-bordering-on-collectivist society, finds himself in over his head when he’s chosen as the leader of the rebellion against the evil President Business. His journey from everyguy to savior is an excuse to send us careening through a series of outlandish landscapes, all designed to look like they’re created out of Lego. (Lord and Miller also gave the film the feel of stop-motion animation to further the building block effect.) The film barely pauses for breath, and by the end, there are a dozen or so characters fighting to get a punchline in.
The one concession the movie makes towards its market comes close to ruining everything. I doubt my six-year-old self would have felt the need for an “explanation” of the inspired madness that had come before, let alone one as treacly as this. But apart from that, everything’s pure gold: the constant changes in scenery and structure (animation by Australian visual effects studio Animal Logic), the very droll voice work of Morgan Freeman, Alison Brie, Will Arnett and Liam Neeson (as Bad Cop/ Good Cop), the pop culture nods to everything from Hello Kitty to the gravel voice Christian Bale adopted in his Batman movies. The bonus features on the DVD are paltry, but if you don’t mind shelling out, the Blu-Ray version is bursting with extras.
This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.
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