Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Lego Movie (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Lego Movie

In what normally would be a candidate for short attention span filmmaking and a dizzying sensory overload to the point of nausea, "The Lego Movie" is instead meaningful, entertaining and even poignant.

This animated film composed entirely of Lego block-inspired scenes is made up of several various realms, each one making a very personal universe. Say what you will about this wobbly world, at once geometric but also curiously round and undulating, you can count on these intersecting dimensions to be as infinite as nature.

Chris Pratt plays Emmet, a Lego construction worker in a coloring book-type landscape reminiscent of South Park.

Emmet is an Everyman. He looks like most everyone and likes everything. His world is one of primary colors without choice. There is presumably nothing to strive against, but there is also nothing to strive for, nor any option of going forward. This earth-ish realm is run by a salt and pepper-haired mogul, a President Business. It is a land very similar to the one the New Wave Group Devo imagined in their lyrics: a flat land of uniform sameness and bland tastes. (By a seeming coincidence, former Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh composes the film's bouncy score)

One day Emmet is on the job and he sees someone who looks like a ninja.   She is Wyldstyle, (Elizabeth Banks) a goth-modeled character who recalls 80s rocker Joan Jett.

Emmet follows our ninja heroine thru a secret red door and enters a universe where Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell, whose figure echoes Tim Curry's Lucifer in "Legend") wants to destroy Emmet's universe by releasing the  Kragle, a common tube of Krazy Glue. Emmet is designated as "The Special" and his task is to carry the sacred "piece of resistance" to the Kragle.

Along the way they meet a slightly sexist Batman (Will Arnett), a nonchalant Moses-like wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), and a Janus-faced cop (Liam Neeson).

The jokes are non-stop and rapid which provide a nice counter to the dizzying lasers and countless explosions and make it all palatable. Everything and everyone with every possible pop culture reference is mentioned here (if only for thirty seconds) and the older kids among us will enjoy the glib laughs.

Events get a bit philosophical when Emmet falls to our Earth in a live action sequence as a common disposable figure, manipulated by an anal retentive designer father, the mythical figure feared by Legos: The Man Upstairs (played in human form by who else, Will Ferrell)

This Millenial yuppie dad wants to Krazy Glue everything in place and in a homage to Spielberg, it is up to the young son (Jadon Sand) to stand up for creativity and foil his dad's restrictive and "adult" plans.

It is the madcap effervescent flavor of this film that saves it from being square. When Shakespeare is in the company of The Dark Knight, it is hard to restrain the giggles if not the ripping guffaws.

And, if you are thinking of everything being digitized in cubes, think again. In one masterful pirate episode, the sea actually curves and swells in an excellent interpretation of the work of Popeye animator Max Fleischer.

Last but not least, some of the original cast members of "Star Wars" are here : Anthony Daniels' C-3PO and Billy Dee Williams reprises Lando Calrissian.

Fear not Jedi purists, thankfully this is not Dancing with the Stars.

In the final scene when the manic Ayn Randian Dad puts down the glue, the moment is strikingly heartfelt and touching.

"The Lego Movie" seduces in charm with a daring that represents a total constellation that is worlds beyond any supposed age group.

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