Funnily enough, watching The Lego Movie brought to mind another movie that really deserves to be forgotten, forever. Remember The Internship? A justifiably easy-target for scorn for many people last year, one of the common criticisms thrown at it was that it was never intended to be anything more than a 2 hour advertisement for Google. But was that in and of itself a valid criticism? I spend more time than is healthy complaining about advertising and I’ve already written on this blog complaining about mere moments of product placement, and yet I thoroughly enjoyed The Lego Movie, a clear attempt at showing kids that all their flim-flamming Xbone’s and ApplePad’s aren’t nearly as cool and fun as a good set of Legos (Lego? Legoes?) The creative team behind The Lego Movie, Phil Lord and Chris Miller show that any effort at all goes a long way to cutting through corporate mandates.
Parks and Recreations Chris Pratt continues his big screen star push as Emmett, a generic construction worker Lego man seemingly incapable of creativity who accidentally becomes involved in an adventure involving prophecies, a journey across several lands and a conspiracy to destroy the world, that is to say, a standard movie plot, but better, cos this one has Batman in it. Will Arnett who voices the self-aggrandising Dark Knight is an old hand at collecting easy pay checks for voiceover work but he, like Pratt is among a well-cast group that includes Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman that seem to be genuinely having fun.
Appropriately the movie is filled with enough imagination to be visually interesting. The animation is committed to the Lego concept, with everything down to the water and fire amusingly depicted in building block form. There are plenty of jokes and cameos packed into the background that reward paying attention. Again, this speaks favourably to the effort put in by Lord and Miller. The two previously worked on cult television cartoon Clone High and on Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, two other movies that exceeded low audience expectations.
Is it subtle? No. Is the story obvious? Of course, it’s a children movie and judged on its own merits it never becomes worthy of a roll of the eyes. This is partly because it wisely chooses to keep the jokes coming on a rapid-fire basis but also because, in the third act it takes that seemingly simple plotting to a place slightly off-track from expectations. There’s some meta questioning on how exactly Legos (Legi? Legolasses?) should be played with and an unexpected resolution that should manage to keep older viewers awake. You're never exactly in danger of dying from laughter but there's a good balance struck with the humour and it thankfully doesn't fall into the children's movie comedy trap of easy pop culture references. Well it does have a song about how Batman is an orphan, but I'm a cheap date when it comes to that.
I definitely recommend The Lego Movie as an easy watch with enough creativity and enthusiasm behind it for me to shut off the cynical, messed up, how-dare-anyone-ever-try-to-sell-me-anything parts of my brain. It is even really that bad on the advertising front really anyway, I don’t think at any point in its 100 minute run-time is the Lego logo shown or even the word Lego actually used. Compare that to The Internship, which couldn’t even get through its trailer without Google being mentioned some 15 times. Plus, The Internship didn’t have an awesome song that will stay in your head until the end of time, stubbornly refusing to ever leave EVERYTHINGISAWESOME-