Critics' Pick

The Lego Movie (PG-13)

February 7, 2014
By Amy Nicholson
Consider the Lego, the toy of contradiction. With them you can build anything: houses, airplanes, house-airplanes. When the Lego gods created man, the "mini-fig," he was startlingly conformist; if the company hadn't forbidden the toys to dress up as soldiers, they could have served as the perfect playset to re-enact The Triumph of the Will. More recently, Lego has come packaged as licensed kits with instructions showing children exactly what to make. To their credit, The Lego Movie writers-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have thought through the complexity of their subject, creating a goofy cartoon that will sell enough tickets and toys to keep their bosses happy while facing head-on the fact that these bricks are kinda, well, fascist. Our hero is a mini-fig named Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), a construction worker (of course), who discovers he is the prophesied chosen one, a trope as stiff as his joints. He awakens in a darling dystopia where everyone has a specific role to play, and winds up the target of the evil President Business (Will Ferrell), a looming figure in brick KISS boots. Lord and Miller have a deft and daring sense of the absurd. They give us a world where everyone is literally a cog, make us root for Emmet to build things he's only dreamed of, and circle back to ask if there can be too much creativity, as when Emmet and his allies — Batman (Will Arnett), an astronaut (Charlie Day), a unicorn kitten (Alison Brie) and a godlike Lego sage (Morgan Freeman) — attempt to make a submarine without coordinating their plans. Should there be a supreme builder? The theological implications are a pleasurable head trip.

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