By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars) 

Writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are on a four film winning streak. Starting with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 2009 and continuing with 21 Jump Street, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, this filmmaking duo has achieved fame, success and critical acclaim with sharply written and highly entertaining movies of both adult and family varieties.  Their latest entry in family entertainment, The Lego Movie, delivers laughs and heart galore that will make even the most cynical viewer fall in love with this joyful masterpiece. One doesn’t even need to have extensive experience with the Lego brand name to find this film thoroughly charming, but those who do will  delightfully eat up what this movie has to offer.

In the Lego World, a construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt) enjoys his ordinary and uneventful life and is content following instructions.  On one particular day Emmet discovers an odd piece that doesn’t seem to fit at all in his world. He soon discovers that this odd find is the legendary and long sought after, “piece of resistance.” When a revolutionary master builder named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) finds out that Emmet has found the coveted piece, she believes he may be the prophesied “Special” who will lead the other master builders in a revolt against the tyrannical Lord Business who plans to permanently fix the Lego world according to his design.

Lord and Miller, who co-wrote the story and screenplay with Dan and Kevin Hageman, have really outdone themselves this time. The script features perhaps their best writing ever. Every single joke, gag, one-liner, as well as the good natured ribbing of Lego toys works beautifully. The intelligently written satire will also appeal to the more mature members of the audience. The colorful animation and the equally colorful characters will keep the kids enchanted and entertained. There’s a little something for everyone in this movie, and anyone who has the pleasure and opportunity of viewing this movie will have a great time.

The computer generated animation used to create the world of Lego is just as impressive as the writing.  I saw the film in its 3D version which actually doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t really impress either. My recommendation is to save the added expense and watch this gorgeous looking movie without the unnecessary 3D glasses. The animation crew deserves tremendous praise for making the imaginative Lego world come to life on the big screen.

These characters would not have been quite as fun without the amazing voice cast. Chris Pratt brings a sweet, gee-whiz, quality to Emmet and uses his superb comic timing effectively. Elizabeth Banks performs well as the tough, but sweet, Wyldstyle. The movie also boasts superb voice work by Morgan Freeman (Vituvius), Will Ferrell as the villainous Lord Business, Will Arnett as a hilarious Batman Lego, Allison Brie (Unikitty), Charlie Day (Lego astronaut), and Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop. Be sure to stay for the credits to see the many other excellent and surprising voice cameos.

I could go on and on in even greater detail about the wonderful surprises that this film has to offer, but that would take all the fun out of experiencing it first-hand.  I have to say that probably the biggest surprise, though, is how much enjoyment I got out of this picture. I expected to be moderately entertained, but I absolutely fell in love with this movie. The expertly written story has a lovely, heartfelt message and Phil Lord and Chris Miller take their audience on a fun and exciting journey to share it.  Later this year, Lord and Miller will be back with 22 Jump St. and I can hardly wait to see what they have in store for us.


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