A main theme in “The Lego Movie” expresses the difference between following instructions and using one’s imagination.
Gloriously, the filmmakers enthusiastically have embraced the latter. “The Lego Movie” easily could have been a corporate commercial full of enticements for kids to buy toys, but it’s not. Free-flowing and energetic, it’s as fun as actual play.
It’s also different from previous Lego video productions, including the “Ninjago” series, the “Clutch Powers” series and last year’s “LEGO Batman: The Movie.”
Created with computer animation that looks like old-fashioned stop-motion, it has a warm, personal feel. And its visuals, from a colorful, anarchic rainbow world to a roiling ocean seemingly made with millions of tiny blue bricks, are spectacular.
The only drawback is a slightly jerky quality that causes the faster-paced scenes to feel a bit chaotic.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who took the obligatory big screen adaptation of “21 Jump Street” and turned it into a hilarious hit, “The Lego Movie” has a similar irreverent, carefree attitude.
Like Will Ferrell’s Christmas classic “Elf,” it’s loaded with all-ages humor, yet not inappropriate for kiddies.
The plot centers on a Lego worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt) who follows all the instructions required for daily life.
He learns of an evil plot wherein President Business (Ferrell) plans to destroy the world using a secret weapon called “Kragle.”
The Kragle can be stopped with something called the “Piece of Resistance.” Emmet has accidentally obtained this piece, which means that he is the “Special,” or chosen one, destined to save the world.
He is aided by punk-rock girl Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), blind soothsayer Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett). The President’s evil henchman, Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), tries to stop them.
If the plot sounds routine, never fear. The filmmakers have curveballs in store. It also helps that the cast comprises brilliant comedians capable of rhythmic, off-the-cuff line readings.
Be prepared for cameos featuring Lego franchises. Oscar nominee Jonah Hill plays a chummy Green Lantern, and some of the original “Star Wars” characters appear.
“The Lego Movie” may sound as though it’s reckless and piecemeal, but rest assured, everything comes together with a satisfying click.
The Lego Movie
Starring Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell
Written Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Running time 1 hour, 40 minutes