Like video games based on films, films based on toys are often ill-conceived, produced cheaply and lack originality. Everything from Masters of the Universe through Transformers to Battleship, they are often just an excuse to cash in on a popular title in the most cost-effective way possible. So a film titled The Lego Movie, which was based on the ultra-popular Danish multi-purpose bricks could so easily have been a glorified advert. In many ways it is, and in so many other ways it's much more.
Emett (Chris Pratt) is an engineer from Bricksburg, a lego town ruled by Mr. Business (Will Ferrell) in which everything is constructed precisely as it should be and everyone follows the instructions for their lives. After a normal day on the construction site, Emmet sees a strange woman Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and accidentally falls into a secret underground cave where he discovers a device that marks him as the prophetic Chosen One. This prophecy, foretold by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) tells of one who will lead the Master Builders, who insist on using their creativity to build new and exciting inventions. Emmet teams with Vitruvius, Wyldstyle and a host of other builders like Batman (Will Arnett), Benny the Spaceman (Charlie Day) and Unikitty (Alison Brie) to fight against Mr. Business who intends on using a device to destroy all creativity in the World.
The Lego Movie follows a standard quest format with an unlikely hero thrust into an unlikely adventure who eventually becomes a hero. What is a true delight is that the writing and directing pair of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, most famous for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, bring a clear love of the bricks to the forefront. The world, which is CGI, is given a fully lived-in feel and a tangibility that in almost every scene you hear a satisfying click as everything comes together.
At the heart of the story is the battle that anyone who used Lego will appreciate. Do you build the set exactly as it appears on the box or do you let your creativity take hold and hope for the best? The fact that the good side are the creatives allows the film-makers to make a rather pertinent comment of the increasing homogenization of society, with everyone following the rules and striving to attain normality. It's a concept that fuels capitalism, which is why its so funny to see it housed within a film that is basically selling toys to kids.
In terms of the films' quality, there won't be many films this year that will make you laugh harder or for longer than this. Apart from a baggy middle and an ending that takes the action into an alternate dimension, which doesn't really work, the jokes come thick and fast. In Will Arnett's Batman you have a cultural icon that needs little setup, but provides some of the films biggest laughs. The attention to detail is incredible with the most obvious indication being Spaceman Benny's helmet which is snapped at the chin, just like all spacemen Lego were. In fact The Lego Movie might have the most impressive voice cast of all time, with small parts for Channing Tatum, Dave Franco, Jonah Hill and Jake Johnson while Liam Neeson's Good Cop/Bad Cop also brings
Through this it is clear that The Lego Movie was created by people that love Lego bricks. It's presented in a fantastic and hilarious fashion and does exactly all films that advertise a brand should do. It makes you forget that you're watching an extended advert and makes you feel like you're watching a properly creative piece of art. In fact this might be the most effective advertising of all time, because by the time you've finished watching it, you'll want to fill your home with the multi-coloured bricks.