The Lego Movie (2014)
Dir: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Song.
“Everything is Awesome!”… Well, that’s what I left the cinema singing and it’s true!
Emmett (Chris Pratt, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘) is a normal Lego construction piece, living in a world of Lego, trying to fit in with all the other pieces by following the instructions. However, when he stumbles across the ‘piece of resistance’ and meets Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), he is introduced to a side of the Lego world he never knew existed and must join with the Master Builders including Batman (Will Arnett) to fulfil a prophecy and stop the Kragle wielded by Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
I’ve seen it twice now, once on the cinema screen and once on a standard TV, it works so well on both. My friend’s Lego-loving son didn’t seem so fussed in the cinema and I thought it hadn’t worked for him, but once he got it on Blu-Ray started regularly watching it at home and absolutely loves it.
Behind this are directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the people who jump-started ‘Jump Street’ and made ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’. Simply put, these guys are absolute geniuses with animated movies! The film is mainly computer animated, but is done in such a way that it’s nearly indistinguishable from stop-motion animation, with the animators treating the elements as if they were real Lego pieces. This gives the film a completely different look, totally unlike any other animated feature film I’ve seen! There are loads of strange moments and oddity a bit like ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’. The humour is great for kids, but there’s plenty there for adults too.
A key part of why this worked so incredibly well is the voices. The voice cast includes actors from 3 of my favourite comedy shows of all time, Chris Pratt & Nick Offerman from ‘Parks and Recreation’, Will Arnett from ‘Arrested Development’, and Alison Brie from ‘Community’. There are so many others too, including Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman! You get the feeling through the enthusiastic and expressive dialogue, that the actors really enjoyed recording their parts, everyone sounds like they’re giving it their all. One of my favourite little in-jokes is Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as Superman and Green Lantern who aren’t really friends though Green Lantern is desperate for them to be, it’s a clever little nod to the Jump Street movies and Tatum and Hill’s friendship.
The film contains a section that came as a real surprise to me, maybe my own fault that I really wasn’t expecting it, I won’t say anything much about it in detail as I don’t want to spoil that for anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film, but it really changes the film for a bit, and adds another level to the storyline while adding a lot to the emotional effect of the film for families. It demonstrated to me that there was a huge amount of thought put into how to bring this toy to the big screen in a way that was fun but also showed real understanding of its place in the lives of many.
Currently, the film is BAFTA nominated, the super-catchy song ‘Everything is Awesome’ is Grammy nominated and now it also has an Oscar nomination for ‘Best Original Song’. Sadly I’m disappointed it won’t get the accolade I think it fully deserves as it somehow didn’t make the shortlist for ‘Best animated Feature’ at the Oscars, and while included in that category at the Golden Globes it was there beaten by ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, and while that film is very good, this in my opinion is far better. It’s not just because it was released so early in the qualification window that it was very nearly in the last awards season rather than this one, it shows a lot about how the animation division of the academy think about their nominees, often favouring films that show a lot of hands-on technical ability like stop-motion films like ‘The Boxtrolls’ over just clever films like this which mimics the stop-motion style with computer graphics.
It’s still a remarkably clever film regardless of accolades, and it managed to completely surprise me when I first saw it, then I loved it even more on second viewing. It’s a shame it won’t win the Oscar for best animated feature, but they may still go home with one statue for the song because it’s awesome… Everything is Awesome!