30 December 2014 | bob the moo
Doesn't quite have the heart the message needed, but it is still energetic, clever and funny
It was approaching the end of the year when I finally joined everyone else and enjoyed seeing the Lego Movie, a few seasons after it was released. Although I try not to pay attention to hype and critical response, it did seem like a positive that the same people sneering at Transformers for being a pumped-up toy commercial, were perfectly in love with the Lego Movie even though it is entirely reasonable to point out that it will do that product absolutely no harm to be literally the building blocks of a bright, colorful film where one of the messages is to be creative and mess around with things. The plot is quite light – a perfectly ordinary construction worker who spends his life following instructions and order, suddenly finds himself declared the Special One by a group called the Master Builders, who are racing to prevent Lord Business from destroying the world as they know it.
It is a bare bones plot but the flesh put onto it is actually pretty good. With access to a range of characters and franchises, the film has a lot of fun playing with the Lego brand but also the many other brands and characters that it can draw in; this produces a busy film with lots of opportunities for pop culture references and jokes – a lot of which it takes. This is accompanied by lots of frantic action, which is well animated but perhaps just too busy to be fun all the time (often I struggled to really see what was happening amid all the rapid colorful movement – again the type of comment thrown at Transformers but less-so at this). All of this makes it entertaining and the novelty of the Lego is well used to add to the comedy.
Towards the end there is a nice development which I thought was pretty clever and well done; it also opens the door to bring heart into the film by virtue of making it more than cat poster messages and snappy one-liners. It has a reasonable try at this but it was a case of leaving it too late, and it hadn't manage to get this aspect to work through the film in the way that it really needed to have done to sell it totally. Still liked it for trying, but it is an extra at the end, not part of the overall being of the film. This feeling of it being very about the moment, slick and polished is ironically not helped by reading the cast list, since it is a great list of names all sharing the time. The positive of this is that off the page, they are all very good in the film itself, even if many of them are basically doing what we know they can/will do. So Pratt is fun and personable but basically is just doing Andy as a Lego figure. Ferrell, Neeson, Banks, Arnett and others are all good while I enjoyed the many smaller turns ranging from Day and Hill through to Daniels and Billy Dee Williams.
All told it is lively fun, with plenty of crafted dialogue and delivery, but it is the area of heart where it doesn't totally hit home; leaving it entertaining but perhaps not quite worthy of the hype.