The Lego Movie (PG)

7 Stars

I don’t like to brag but…

I’m a bit of an animation aficionado.

2013 was a spectacular year for animated films.

Shame on Oscar and the Globes for not nominating all five of these: Frozen, The Croods, Monsters University, Turbo and Despicable Me 2.

But, smart as it is, The Lego Movie falls short of this pantheon.

I enjoy TLM (although I don’t appreciate the title), and you probably will too. Perhaps a bit more than I did.

For all the fun character cameos, the original smart writing and Lego fight fireworks; the pacing slackens in the middle.

It’s a good family movie that’s mildly humorous, with the creative cuts and camera transitions that come along with animation. The style’s laid on thick, but it works, and the story is a good one.

Lego’s got a solid voice cast to back it up, lead by Chris Pratt, and my girl, Elizabeth Banks.

But seriously, the fights are sick, and there’s a lot of death in this film (if you think about it.) I know that sounds creepy, but I’d argue it’s imperative to an animated film nowadays. Otherwise how’s an adult audience going to feel there’s anything at stake?

Anyway, if you don’t want to see any spoilers, cease reading now.

Here’s my existential quandary: I simply don’t know how to properly review a film like this. The effort and correct ingredients went into the moviemaking cauldron and all that came out was a less than spectacular film.

My major problem with it is the pacing. It slows down immensely, once the cloud world is destroyed and they escape in a submarine. They hit the water and I’m wondering how many minutes remain.

As I said before, the humor is mild at best. There are a couple good laughs, but there are also some jokes that fall flat.

One of the funnier parts of the movie is the relationship between Superman and Green Lantern, voiced by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. These two are becoming quite the comedic team.

Will Arnett as Batman is also very funny.

Morgan Freeman, as the prophet Vitruvius, is one of my favorite parts. Not only is he particularly chucklesome, but his character distorts the structure of traditional narrative storytelling. For example, he ‘makes up’ the prophecy.

I read Harrison Ford was too busy to record the lines for Lego Han Solo, but they managed to get Billy Dee Williams (as Lando Calrissian) and Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO). I hate to be overly critical, but I’m pretty sure it takes two hours in a recording studio for small voice parts like Lego Han Solo’s.

Harrison, what gives buddy?

And finally, how could I forget Liam Neeson? He did two separate voices as Good Cop/Bad Cop. I like that Liam fellow, he’s got talent.

Now, there are two parts of this movie that are particularly smart. The reveal of the live action context (in which the Lego universe exists) rounds off the ending in a more than satisfactory way. I’ll add this is the second time that Will Ferrell’s physical appearance is revealed in a movie (the first is Wedding Crashers.)

Themes like conformity and creativity, the imaginary and concrete, physical skill and intellectual knowledge, etc. resound throughout the film.

The basic point of The Lego Movie is that life can work both ways. You can follow every instruction manual to the letter, or be the total opposite, a complete freethinker who just powers ahead and doesn’t get caught up in the minutia of perfectionism. Life will probably work out regardless, but perhaps we shouldn’t grow too rigid, and remained shackled (or ‘Kragled’) to our own ways of navigating the world.

I like The Lego Movie.

I just wish the pacing and humor could keep up with the storytelling.

Thoughts, perchance?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s