What happens when an ordinary, everyman, rules-following block of plastic (the protagonist Emmet, voiced by Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt) is mistakenly identified as the messiah and is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant? A hilarious and technically brilliant film which also imparts a message in keeping with the times.
Now, what more can you expect from The Lego Movie which is essentially about a plastic block universe inhabited by tiny toy figurines? Going by the critics responses: a lot!
The film will work for kids, adults and all the people in between. New York Times' AO Scott says, "The story is a busy, slapdash contraption designed above all to satisfy the imperatives of big-budget family entertainment. There are fiery chases and hectic brawls, and a crowd of famous voices simultaneously enacting and lampooning the standard cartoon-quest narrative of heroic self-discovery. Pop-culture jokes ricochet off the heads of younger viewers to tickle the world-weary adults in the audience, with just enough sentimental goo applied at the end to unite the generations. Parents will dab their eyes while the kids roll theirs."
The film is a satire on conformity, and a brilliantly executed one. Says Bill Goodykoontz of Arizona Republic, "Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt), like all the other characters a Lego toy, is a construction worker. (There is, after all, a lot to be built in a Lego universe.) Like the rest of the population, he wakes up happy every morning, singing the universal, nauseatingly catchy theme song Everything Is Awesome. But is it, really? Sadness lurks beneath that little drawn-on smile. Emmet doesn't really have any friends. He's kind of a cipher. And there's something a little unnerving about the way everyone follows directions to the letter."
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly compares The Lego Movie with Toy Story for its digital excellence. "It's also startlingly sophisticated. The directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, have forged The LEGO Movie almost entirely out of digital imagery, but they replicate the primitive, eye-popping high of stop-motion animation, creating a Lego universe as if it had been built piece by piece. Like Toy Story 19 years ago, the film fools your eye into thinking it's watching real plastic that moves, and the connection to the Toy Story films doesn't end there. The Lego Movie, likewise, invents a kind of child-friendly meta universe in which the playthings on display are at once objects and characters."
Critics, however, have an issue with torture sequences near the climax of the film. Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune says, "We're happily and fully in thrall to the stop-motion Lego world writ large, to the point that when a huge change occurs at the climax, it's a bit of a killjoy. We don't really want to leave the Lego world, even for sincerely wrought pathos, and a complicatedly affecting message to parents everywhere."
Scott also has a grouse with the film. "The overt message is that you should throw out the manuals and follow the lead of your own ingenuity, improvising new combinations for the building blocks in front of you. But the movie itself follows a fairly strict and careful formula, thwarting its inventive potential in favor of the expected and familiar."