Still crazy about it, after all these years

22:08, Apr 23 2014
lego movie
 

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about raising two boys in the 21st century is how crazy they are about the things I was crazy about as a kid in the 20th century.

Despite all that has changed over the past 40 years, they, like me at their age, are mad about Star Wars, Tintin, Batman and Lego.

The story of the brightly coloured interlocking Danish bricks is a phenomenal one.

For one thing the first brick they made in 1949 still fits the latest pieces rolling out of Lego's factories today. For another, production has been so prolific, if you divided the number of bricks Lego has made by the number of men, women and children on the planet, everyone would have 86 pieces each.

Since I was a kid Lego has upped its profile by entering into agreements with the makers of some of the most successful movies of the last 30 years.

As a result, we have Star Wars Lego, Lord of the Rings Lego, Batman Lego . . . pretty-much-any-major-movie-you-can-think-of Lego. Now the geniuses at Lego HQ have taken the next logical step and instead of riding on the coat tails of other people's films, they've made one of their own.

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The Lego Movie (PG) is, on one level, the ultimate product placement experience yet, on another, it's a funny, thoroughly entertaining and clever celebration of creativity. The story revolves around Emmet, a humble Lego man who works in construction. Cheerful and trusting, Emmet loves his job, his co-workers and being part of a team. Emmet puts his happiness down to the fact that he "follows the instructions".

In reality, however, he isn't as happy as he looks. He has only ever had one original thought in his life and he is lonely.

Unbeknown to Emmet and his fellow citizens, their world is being ruthlessly controlled by a megalomaniac known as Lord Business who has some pretty despicable plans.

Emmett discovers there is more to life than meets the eye one night when he stumbles across a magical piece of Lego known as "the piece of resistance".

Confused and vulnerable, Emmett is taken in by Wyldstyle, the coolest and toughest girl he has ever met, who helps him escape from Lord Business who desperately wants to get his little plastic hands on the magical block.

The Lego Movie is visually the most colourful experience I've had in a cinema since The Great Gatsby. Occasionally it feels like its makers are chucking actual buckets of Lego in your face.

Mercifully, there is a lot more to it than just the primary colours and lots of noise and mayhem.

Riffing on everything from The Matrix to The Bible, The Lego Movie cleverly conveys messages about the importance of both the individual and the group.

Writing and directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller recognise the value of both people thinking for themselves and the awesome things that can be achieved working as a team.

Ingeniously they have taken what appeared to be a commercial masquerading as a children's film and turned it into a virtual parable on the Western World's great philosophical debate that everyone can understand.

It features memorable vocal performances from Chris Pratt as Emmett, Will Ferrell as Lord Business, Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, Liam Neeson as Lord Business's enforcer Bad Cop and Morgan Freeman as a wizard named Vitruvius.

Best of all, it's funny. Lord and Miller, whose other films include Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, share a sense of humour that will appeal to all ages. Occasionally they chuck in gags that go over the kids' heads but for the most part, it's cheeky fun that everyone can enjoy.

BOTTOM LINE

Brilliant in its own special way. ★★★★

Also screening: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (M) Gets the job done.

Nelson