THE REEL: “Everything is Awesome:” Vibrant, energetic “Lego” more than the sum of its blocks

THE REEL with Ben Conniff

Ben Conniff

Not only is “The Lego Movie” better than “Frozen,” and not only is it the best animated film since “Toy Story 3”. It’s also one of the best movies (period) in recent memory. 

The story follows Emmett (Chris Pratt) – an ordinary LEGO mini-figure who’s mistakenly recruited to join the legendary team of Master Builders. Members include Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Benny the 80s-something Astronaut (Charlie Day) and Unikitty (Alison Brie).Together, they must prevent the evil President Business (Will Ferrell) from permanently gluing their universe together.

Other voice talents include Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Dave Franco, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Shaquille O’Neal, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Liam Neeson. With a superstar cast this size, everyone is clearly in it for a good time.

Day, Freeman, Ferrell, and Neeson stand out as the most entertaining of the bunch, with the typically brooding Neeson successfully handling the vocals of a dual role that’s unlike anything he’s ever done.

There’s a clever mix of computer animation and stop-motion techniques here that make most of the film’s moving parts – including the characters – appear stiff and wooden. In short, it’s exactly how living, breathing LEGO people should move.The special effects – explosions, fire, crashing waves – are all cleverly made of LEGO pieces.

Folks might recognize a few blockbuster clichés from “Transformers” and “The Avengers,” but the script from writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) is full of enough subversive humor to keep adults hooked while the kids are scarfing up the visual eye candy. Any grown-up who’s ever put two LEGO bricks together will have just as much fun as their children. 

Only one aspect was worn thin, and that was Tegan and Sara’s bubbly anthem “Everything is Awesome”. The track is the only song allowed by President Business’s radio stations, which means it’s played nothing short of a dozen times.

As the favorite song of everyone in the city of Bricksburg, “Everything is Awesome” represents a sign of the citizens’ conformity. Aside from that, the title is a pretty accurate representation of how “awesome” the rest of the film itself is. I just would’ve liked some variety in the soundtrack

In the end, the film is more than just the sum of its bricks. It has a heart, brain, and a funny bone. Its message regarding the importance of imagination and creativity may seem predictable for a film about construction toys, but the way it’s presented comes in a fresh, colorful package that the kid in all of us could use right now.

With “Lego,” Lord and Miller have cemented their status as two of the most exciting, colorful and imaginative filmmakers working in mainstream Hollywood today.