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The Lego Movie (2014)In 1994, I paid good money to see Rosie O'Donnell on Broadway in the… More In 1994, I paid good money to see Rosie O'Donnell on Broadway in the revival of GREASE. Great source material...well, ok...if I'm being honest, about half of it is kinda terrible...but what prevented me from enjoying it was the DayGlo eyesore that was its production design. It literally burned my retinas. I bring this up, because it's possible to have a similar reaction to THE LEGO MOVIE. It has a witty, fast-paced, over-packed script but damn if it isn't hard to look at in parts. Sensory overload is putting it mildly, but so much craft has gone into it, that I couldn't help but smile. Imagine a Pokemon cartoon on speed, with all of its attending surreal flourishes, coupled with ten times the pop culture references of a SHREK film and you'll get a sense of this film's tone. Essentially a Hero Origin story, THE LEGO MOVIE focuses on Emmet (Chris Pratt), a ordinary guy who is thought to be "The Special One" who can save mankind (or is it Lego-kind?). His quest includes finding the cleverly named "Piece of Resistance" and assembling his group of fellow warriors to take on Lord Business (Will Farrell). Messages about conformity abound, most entertainingly with its ode to bright-eyed Communism, "Everything Is Awesome". This is an earworm of a tune which feels ripped straight from a Teletubbies episode. This is frenetic, kitchen sink entertainment. Jokes are piled on with references designed to please the adults while simultaneously allowing children to get caught up in the whiz-bang action. Seriously, when was the last time you've seen a children's film reference (hilariously) THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS? The voice work is so light and breezy, giving us so many vivid characters. Morgan Freeman stands out as a sillier version of the Voice of God he usually plays, while Will Arnett practically steals the movie as Batman, his crazy deep voice making everything he says funny. Unfortunately, the look of the film can get in the way. The characters are vivid enough that the backgrounds could have been simplified. Instead, they compete with the cast, giving us too much to absorb in any given frame. I'm sure it was intentional; the better to ensure repeat viewings, but at times it made my eyes water from the strain. Think the live action SPEED RACER meets TOY STORY meets the rudimentary animation of SOUTH PARK, and then add splashes of every Crayola color into each frame, and then keep adding dollops of everything else, and you'll get an idea of how much is happening here. I suppose restraint isn't on the Studio Film menu anymore, so who am I to quibble with what sells? Regardless, THE LEGO MOVIE is a pure blast with a message about individual creativity triumphing over group-think....while still making us all salivate with anticipation of the certainly upcoming video game. Hollywood may be eating itself here, but a clever sensory assault is better than a flat pancake any day.
28 days ago via Flixster