Everything is Awesome!

Though we're living in a fantastic era for kid-targeted movies that include plenty of adult-friendly material, not every movie fits the bill. Sometimes, it's pretty apparent: The Nut Job clearly had nothing that would interest me. Sometimes, it's hidden: The trailer for Frozen made it look like a series of juvenile butt jokes, but it soon became clear that I'd love it. It takes some digging to find kids' movies I want to see.

So when The Lego Movie came along, I was perfectly prepared to skip it. I thought it'd be a mercenary, two-hour toy commercial. But it didn't take long for that preconception to start crumbling. Critics I trust began to talk it up. Friends with children were rhapsodizing about it. Every other post on Facebook was about its earworm of a theme song. Movie podcasts began to ignore Oscar talk in order to chat about The Lego Movie, instead. Obviously, this was something I needed to check out.

Ostensibly, the movie is a pretty standard hero's journey. Everyday guy learns he's the key to saving the entire world, and is joined in his quest to defeat the evil villain by various sidekicks and a love interest. Except in this movie, all those characters are plastic bricks. And blanketed on top of the hero's journey is a morality tale about both the dangers of conformity and the importance of cooperation. You'd think those themes would conflict, but The Lego Movie manages to strike a good balance. It even manages to wedge in a surprising plot addition in the third act that I don't think anyone saw coming.

The acting is superb from top to bottom. I normally get a bit itchy about actor types snagging voice work from the voiceover talent pool, but it worked well here. Chris Pratt is basically Andy Dwyer in Lego form for this movie, and it shines with gleeful enthusiasm. Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, and everyone else embodies the perfect character for their voice. Special mention has to be made of Liam Neeson, who puts his silky purr to good use, and immediately tweaks it playfully a moment later.

I may not have seen this movie if it weren't for all the strong word-of-mouth, which is a good thing. That strong word-of-mouth also built up my expectations, though, which isn't. The movie wasn't as fantastic as I'd been led to believe. Still, it was an extremely solid, entertaining flick, especially for February. And there is certainly one thing the crowd was entirely correct about. That theme song is INFECTIOUS.

The Lego Movie: B+


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