For those that just want a recap, here is my Top 10 so far:
- 10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- 9. Nightcrawler
- 8. 22 Jump Street
- 7. Chef
- 6. Whiplash
- 5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
- 4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- 3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- 2. Selma
Click below to see what my #1 film of the year was and a review of that film.
The Lego Movie (Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
How is it possible that The Lego Movie is so good? Everything was stacked against it. It is a movie based on a toy and those toys are usually based on movies. In the current trend of name recognition even legos seemed like a stretch. At least other toys (Transformers, G.I. Joe) have some form of characters and the bare minimum needed for a story (defeat the bad guys). How could there be a movie based on legos?
**After some research, I have decided that I am going to write the plural version of lego as legos. That may or may not be correct, but for the purposes of this review I will stick with it. I also will not be capitalizing lego, so not to cause a distraction. Also, it should be noted that I have read the word lego so much that it has lost all meaning**
There isn’t a main character when you play with legos. Who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, what is the setting for the lego realm? There isn’t a clear answer because when you play with legos you create a new world every time you buy a new package. There are Star Wars legos, race car legos, animal legos, construction legos, other movie-based legos and so much more. When you open up one package those pieces determine the characters and the setting. Once you have two packages it becomes fun to take your generic race car, add a gun to it and make it fight the Millennium Falcon. When you play with legos YOU are the main character. YOU create the story and YOU are the focus because YOU are creating the world in which these pieces in habit.
That’s the point of legos.
And The Lego Movie captures that perfectly.
Written and Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The Lego Movie is the story of construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt). He is living his normal lego life, working his normal job, saying hi to his normal neighbors and doing things all normal lego people should do. As far as he is concerned, everything is awesome. Soon he is introduced to a wide arrange of characters and locations. He learns that there are tons of different lego worlds and people out there. Whether they be cowboys, medieval knights, superheros, pirates, they are all here and accounted for. He also learns that there is more to life than just being normal. In order to fully live his lego existence he needs to take the normal pieces around him and create new things.
The Lego Movie is not about Emmet and his hero’s journey. It is about legos themselves and the joy that comes from playing with legos. When you play with legos, you make the rules and you create the adventure. You want to have a pirate and an astronaut create a new space boat to go fight the bad guys? Go for it! Do you have a car that you wish was actually a jet with weapons? Make it happen! Do you ever wonder what would happen if Batman were to party with Han Solo? With legos, you can make that party happen!
I can’t stress this idea enough. While the lego movie features a great story of becoming who you are supposed to be and creating new things, it is really about capturing the creative joy that comes from playing with legos and the innocence that comes from childhood itself. Things happen in this movie and it hits a nerve in your core that says “I know that, I’ve done that!” in regards to lego construction. It is amazing that the filmmakers were able to take the concept of a movie based on legos and were able to create something that gets right to the core of creativity.
Lord and Miller have proven their tremendous talent in their wide range of work. Whether it be 21 and 22 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs or the brand new Fox comedy The Last Man on Earth, Lord and Miller have shown themselves to be masters when it comes to combining comedy, action and nostalgia. “Comedy, Action and Nostalgia” could be the tagline for The Lego Movie as it describes it perfectly.
A movie that shows this much creativity would be good in its own rite, but Lord and Miller fill it with so many jokes you almost feel spoiled having a movie this good. Within 20 seconds of the film we are already treated to 2-3 very funny jokes and the movie just keeps going. The pacing of the film is lightning fast. We go from scenes explaining the world, to slower moments where we learn about the characters through comedy, to crazy action scenes that show the full potential of a child playing with legos.
The movie is funny. The movie is smart. The movie promotes anarchy and following your dreams. The movie also promotes structure and following the instructions. There is a time and place for both in the story of The Lego Movie. There is a time to laugh at the ridiculous nature of lego laser sharks, but there is also a time to reflect on how a father and son can connect over toys that help them show creativity.
I can’t recommend The Lego Movie highly enough. Whether young or old there is something for everybody. It also helps that Batman is involved in a lot of the plot…and Batman is awesome (if you want me to like your movie, include more Batman). Everything truly is awesome when it comes to The Lego Movie. I’ve watched it multiple times since it came out and I plan on watching many more times with various audiences in my home. If 2014 was the year of emotional movies for me, then the The Lego Movie represents the emotion of joy. And the joy that The Lego Movie gave me was so strong that it had to be settled that this was my favorite film of 2014.
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