You would expect a movie like this to be nothing more than a shameless attempt to sell more of the expensive little blocks. Instead, it’s probably the best kid’s movie of the year, and certainly one of the funniest and most enjoyable.
The key is that the writers understand Legos. They know that, sure, each package comes with instructions about how to build some cool-looking doohickey, and you’ll do that (or get your dad to do it,) and you’ll even play with it for a while, but the real fun starts when it falls apart. Then you get to build something new. You get to combine the pieces from this Darth Vader camping set with those pieces from Ice Queen Barbie and create something entirely new. If all you ever do is follow the instructions, you’ve taken all the fun out of Legos. They are toys of endless reinvention.
Chris Pratt does excellent voice work as Emmett, a perfectly normal guy living in a perfectly normal Lego world. He’s such a perfect fit for this world that he’s not aware it’s a conformist dystopia run by President Business (Will Ferrell,) who ruthlessly destroys anything and everything “weird.” But Emmett literally stumbles into a Matrix-like prophecy that makes him suddenly very important and sought after, both by the resistance and Business, who sends Bad Cop to shut him down before he can foil the President’s plan to turn the whole world into a TACO, or something like that.
It is an absolutely standard plot, borrowed straight from the Matrix, which borrowed it from a dozen other movies. But nobody has as much fun with it as Lord and Miller do here. There are so many throwaway jokes, both visual and verbal, so many things turned sideways and on their head. Emmett is aided by a girl named Wyldstyle, who is not a DJ. Her totally serious boyfriend is Batman, who’d rather be on the Millennium Falcon. Green Lantern has a boy-crush on Superman, who avoids him. And there are two Michelangelos; one’s a turtle.
The whole thing is breathlessly fast-paced, funny, and gone before you know it. Every now and then a movie comes along that I don’t mind if my kids watch over and over again, and this is one of those. In fact, they’ve already moved on, and I’m still laughing at new jokes I missed the first two dozen times around.