Full of sly humor, The LEGO Movie is a must-watch for all LEGO fans – especially adults [Review]

I’ll admit it: I had very low expectations for The LEGO Movie. The first trailers were annoying more than anything else, and — out of context from the movie — I wasn’t especially impressed with the corresponding sets (which LEGO sent us to review a while ago — they’re actually pretty great parts packs). But this evening I joined scores of local LEGO fans, press, and others at an early screening, and the movie won me over from the first moments on screen.

The LEGO Movie

Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (whose previous writing/directing collaboration is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), The LEGO Movie begins when Emmet (Chris Pratt) wakes up one morning and heads to his construction job, following instructions every step of the way. You can infer most of the lessons that the movie will convey from that premise alone — yes, there are plenty of nods to creativity, teamwork, and other wonderful sentiments. But there’s a lot more to this movie than bang-you-over-the-head morals in the vein of Toy Story 3.

The LEGO Movie: BatmanFirst and foremost, the movie is full of subtle references to LEGO arcana from the past 35 years. I won’t spoil any of the surprises, but the inclusion of a blue Classic Space minifig with a cracked visor should be evidence enough that this isn’t just a movie for boys aged 6-12 whose idea of LEGO is Ninjago and Legends of Chima.

Similarly, and less obscurely, well-timed cameos from completely unexpected parts of the LEGO universe (no, not that LEGO Universe) had the audience roaring with approval. The voice acting is impressive, but don’t go looking up the credits yet or you’ll spoil many of the surprises. And forget Ben Affleck, I want Will Arnett as the next Batman.

The animation style is rather striking. Unlike the flat, uniform style we’ve all gotten used to in LEGO video games, the move essentially looks like it was animated with real bricks. More interestingly, the pieces — especially the minifigs — show lots of play wear. The minifigs also move with the limitations inherent to their form; you’ll never see a minifig bending at the knee or flexing a claw hand.

The LEGO Movie: Blue Spaceman

There’s a final plot twist that comes as a complete but totally natural surprise. With plenty of foreshadowing, this final twist fits perfectly with what you’ve seen throughout the rest of the movie — an indication of good writing by Lord and Miller. Even better, it’s clear that they’re very aware of patterns of thinking among adult fans.

Overall, I can unreservedly recommend The LEGO Movie. This isn’t a movie about LEGO the beloved brand or corporation. Nor is it really a movie about bricks or even creativity. Fundamentally, The LEGO Movie is a movie for LEGO fans and about LEGO fans. It’s also just plain entertaining. Set aside your preconceptions and go see it.

The LEGO Movie opens this Friday, February 7th.

As a final note, I’m interested to learn how LEGO builders we know were involved in making the movie — Facebook lately has been full of subtle references to recent projects with a forthcoming reveal and early cast & crew screenings. Watching the credits, it was great to see designer Matthew Ashton get an Executive Producer credit.

I’d love to hear what you think, too. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments, but please keep the discussion spoiler-free through opening weekend.

8 comments on “Full of sly humor, The LEGO Movie is a must-watch for all LEGO fans – especially adults [Review]

  1. Brent Waller

    I was excited to see the reviews coming out today and was planning on going to see it on the weekend, only to discover it doesn’t come out in Australia for another 2 months :(

  2. Dave

    I to found myself with low expectations, but the second I heard Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman were in this that definitely piqued my interest. After seeing the many trailers, spots, and behind the scenes “I AM SO PUMPED UP” for this movie. I’m even dragging my non AFOL friend to the theaters to see it with me on Friday, and even he’s now saying it looks very good.

    I haven’t gotten any of the sets(probably won’t either) I’m a little surprised to hear anything negative about them. Most of the reviews I’ve read were praising them for their offbeat “silliness” They definitely obliterate the rules of what makes sense or what you can have in the set in a way no other theme has been able to do. So my question now is, given the likely success of this all…The Lego Movie 2?

  3. Simon

    I’ve seen it twice now and definitely enjoyed it both times – I found the second time I tried to scour the backgrounds for hidden nuggets and I felt I still didn’t even come close to finding them all.

    And there definite some really recognizable names in the credits :)

  4. Fred

    The broken helmet detail in the last image is enough for me. What person from that era hasn’t had that exact break?

  5. Mark Borlase

    I too was not too excited about movie, but was asked to do a build for the premere with another AFOL and got into screening. I was pleasantly surprised and was really enjoying all the little things directed towards the AFOL’s, especially those who have been doing this for a while (I’m 16+ years now as AFOL). I would definatly recommend it to any Lego fan, young and a little older (cause aren’t all of us AFOL’s young at heart).

  6. AdamDork

    Saw it this past Saturday…was SO fun! I really liked it and going to see it again. Benny might’ve stolen the show for me. Just be sure to avoid any spoilers people!

  7. Phillip Thorne

    Re: AFOL promotions of The LEGO Movie, this Community Team blog by Kevin Hinkle alludes to their involvement. Minneapolis-St.Paul-based TwinLUG was involved (no pics yet), as was Steel City LUG of Pittsburgh (models at movie theater). My own club, DelVaLUG, got recruited late, unfortunately limiting our building time and ambitions (that, plus ice storm power outages since mid-week); but here’s the triumphant appearance of our models in connection with a movie review by FOX 29 Philadelphia, on Friday 7 February at 8:59 a.m. ET.

  8. Andrew Post author

    Phillip, I wasn’t really talking about local events in which LUGs are helping to promote the movie; I’m talking about AFOLs like our own Chris (along with Paganomation, Brotherhood Workshop, and so on) who were involved in contributing designs and ideas to the movie itself.

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