The LEGO Movie (PG)

A seemingly ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary ‘Master Builder,’ is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

The LEGO Movie is witty, visually stunning and wildly imaginative. It is delightfully strange and it is that silliness that draws you into the story.

From the get-go it is clear that a lot of time and money has been spent making the cutting edge computer animation look like old-fashioned stop-frame content. For once, this really is a film that looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

The story takes aim at the trend for themed kits that require kids, and their geeky adult counterparts, to blindly follow instructions to build replicas of movie spaceships like the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. Here it’s the instruction manual and the tyrannical Lord Business (Will Ferrell) that are sucking the fun out of LEGO world.

Lord Business has grown tired of the haphazard way his realm Bricksburg is put together. From now on everything will be done by the book meaning that quirky buildings will be bulldozed and replaced with identikit tower blocks and characters put in their places permanently.

But that doesn’t seem to bother our unlikely hero. Construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) is happy being a cog in the Lord Business’ machine. After a quick flick through the instructions on how to make friends, Emmet sings along to the only state-approved song (a horribly catchy ditty called Everything Is Awesome) on his way to the site.

What Emmet doesn’t know is that he is “the chosen one”, as foretold by the wizard Vitruvius’ (Morgan Freeman) prophecy. Emmet’s task is to save the whole world from total annihilation. No biggy then!

With Lord Business’ swivel-headed goon Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) on his tail, Emmet is forced to go on the run with a freedom fighter called Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) in attempt to save everyone from a very permanent sticky end.

Their travels take them across various realms defined by well-known LEGO kits like the Wild West, pirates and space. On the way they fall in with a band of outlawed ‘Master Builders’, improvising LEGO characters who ditched Lord Business’ manuals long ago.

There’s a moody LEGO Batman (Will Arnett) who’ll only work with black bricks, a humourless Superman (Channing Tatum), a very insecure Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) and a character who very aptly can’t decide whether he’s Dumbledore or Gandalf (Todd Hansen).

The jokes and movie references are packed in so tightly that it is worth going along for a second helping of the movie to properly appreciate the collective hard work from Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Ultimately it is the visual gags that provide the instant hits.

Lord and Miller have made a name for themselves by spinning unpromising ideas like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street into movie gold and The LEGO Movie is no exception. Saving the reputation of the toy movie from the likes of GI Joe, Transformers and Battleship is probably their greatest achievement yet.

The underlying message in this movie is that everyone is special and that they have the ability to do anything that they put their minds to. We are told that it is our differences that make us so special which is a refreshing change from the usual clique-central children’s movies.

Like their plastic heroes, Lord and Miller have created something amazing by tearing up the instruction manual. Here’s to hoping they never stop producing such articulate, humorous and visual masterpieces.

The LEGO movie is out in the UK on February 14th 2014.

By Ruth Walker

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