The directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are racking up quite a reputation for modern-age comedy. Their effectiveness in getting us to laugh or even just smirk a bit at almost anything their characters say is stemmed from observational satire of today’s culture. This element is no better portrayed than in The Lego Movie probably the best (not probably, DEFINITELY) animated movie made since Miyazaki came out with Howl’s Moving Castle. The film does rely on CGI, but praise should go to the effort of the filmmakers in utilizing the technology to actually make the entire movie look and feel as if it is stop-motion.
Unlike all those toy story straight to DVD Lego movies, this one takes care of its set decoration and homage to the toy that inspired its creation, making sure every single frame, every single detail of its construction is controlled by the mechanics of a child putting together lego blocks. Even the bubbles in the hot tub are those translucent blue stub legos that appear and fade away as bubbles actually would.
But lets not just get caught up in the brilliance of the film’s animated engineering and visionary genius. Let’s also consider that this film is one of the smartest written comedies in recent memory. From the moment that Emmet Brickowski (fantastic name for a lead character) appears on screen, we realize that he is essentially an embodiment of the American college graduate… watching cheesy sitcoms, paying exorbitant amounts of money on coffee, and trying so hard to fit in with his new coworkers. He realizes however that he is “The Special”… the single most awesomely important human being to ever exists, EVER (an obvious tongue in cheek play on numerous Hollywood movies signifying an individuals importance… “the ONE ring”, Neo in “The Matrix”, John Connor in the “Terminator” series etc.) and that he is the only person who can stop President Business (a reference to the US Gov and Wall-Street’s corrupt dealings) from releasing the KRAGLE (a Krazy Glue bottle with the “zy” and the “u” etched out from overuse) and keeping everybody stuck to the ground.
Much of the film’s beauty lies in the fact that all these commentaries exist in a children’s movie amidst the kiddy humor. But the humor for children really isn’t just for the little ones either, much of it ties well into how the problems that kids face at school and adults face at their office or workplace are shockingly similar. A favorite moment of mine is the uselessness of Emmet’s personal invention “The Double Decker Couch”, which everyone seems to think is stupid and points out all the technical flaws in its construction, but it ends up having a unique use all to its own that no one had imagined, not even its creator.
In the end, The Lego Movie is a film experience that hits 3 different points that are so hard to get together. It’s wildly entertaining and a film you’d want to watch 10+ times, it’s witty and clever and not filled with the usual crass fart jokes that many animated kids movies use, and its animation and thought process behind its creation is something that should set the standard for the type of animated cinema Hollywood should be making.