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‘The Lego Movie’: animated adventure, thrilling and hilarious

By Muhammad Muzammal Columnist

The theme song of “The Lego Movie” is a high-pitched, frenetic anthem named “Everything is Awesome.” A city called Bricksburg has its citizens follow the same schedule every day. The president, “Lord Business” (Will Ferrell) is extremely controlling and whoever tries to deviate from the norm will be “put to sleep.” It doesn’t get more Orwellian than this.

Warner Bros’ “The Lego Movie” is an extravagant, wild and over-the-top animated film that is much more amusing and meaningful than what it was destined to be - a 100-minute commercial for its titular toy company.

The likable hero is a Lego mini figure named Emmet (Chris Pratt), whose earnest personality is balanced by a strong belief in an instruction manual. The construction worker follows the dull and orderly manual, treating it as a book of principles.

Emmet, like the rest of Bricksburg, cannot become a “master builder,” or an individual who has the ability to create and produce original pieces of work. He can never be a creative and artistic being.

As Emmet carries on with his normal routines, the film opens up its vast, wondrous world to us. We follow the gliding camera past a gigantic metropolis composed of Lego block structures. The buildings, cars, houses and characters are colorful and the set design is imaginative. This is heaven for any 8- to14-year-old child.

When Emmet leaves work, he encounters Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who leads him down a hole where he will eventually find a Lego block that is destined for the one who will fulfill the prophecy of bringing freedom to the Lego world.

He then begins a heroic quest to not only save all the realms of the Lego universe, but to become “special,” a term by which he is often identified (interchangeable with “The Chosen One”).

From there, “The Lego Movie” becomes thrilling and hilarious. The action is inventive and relies more on spectacle than the slam-bang loud nonsense found in many modern day action films.

Notice the chase scene with Wyldstyle and Emmet, after they escape from Emmet’s police questioning (done by a bad cop, with the voice of Liam Neeson, who is surprisingly comical). The filmmakers use Wyldstyle’s building techniques at their full advantage, making her build flying vehicles, a motorbike and various weapons that are used to fight off the aggressive cops.

The witty screenplay benefits from pop culture references, most notably of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. In “The Lego Movie,” the dark knight is voiced by Will Arnett, as a superhero who sounds like he has a throat infection (Christian Bale anyone?). Batman even adds his own mix to the “hero we deserve, but not the one we need” line from the recent trilogy.

There are also sequences with genuine hilarity involving Superman (Channing Tatum) and Green Lantern (Jonah Hill). The Man of Steel is so annoyed by the obsessed latter hero that he begs for kryptonite from others just to keep away from him.

The best thing about “The Lego Movie” though, is that it realizes what it is. The movie never takes itself too seriously and presents the subject material in a silly yet unpretentious way, while still trying to fuse together some form of social commentary.

The people in Bricksburg are living in a capitalist/socialist society, where commercialization is high as well as forced satisfaction. This may not be brilliant satire, but for a movie centered on a children’s toy company, the ambition is admirable.

The film’s message is the same as, seemingly, most animated movies: to realize one’s true potential. But how much can a theme be beaten to death? “The Lego Movie” thankfully keeps it alive as it mixes satire and humor to make an entertaining, for-all-ages motion picture.

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