The Lego Movie might be the best “children’s movie” ever

This is a bold statement to make. I know it. Indulge me for a bit.

The Lego Movie would be a good movie even without any of the Lego bricks involved. The dialog is straightforward and witty and well-done, even for children. It’s fast-paced but not a race. The wide cast of characters, including Batman and Dumbledore and Superman and Shaquille O’Neal, all bring their own flair to the movie that (importantly) isn’t ever over-the-top. Even Batman, who builds a character around liking the color black and being super-cool, isn’t 100% predictable and is funny throughout the movie.

But this is a movie about Legos, and takes fantastic advantage of it. Some spoilers follow. Please go see the movie first.spaceyness

The visual puns are everywhere. There are parodies and “ripoffs” of plenty of real-life things in Lego form. The construction workers build skyscrapers by following Lego instruction manuals. The main bad guy, President Business, collects objects “from another world” which are all real-life, non-Lego objects like a paper clip, an exacto knife, and others, including the main object of the evil plot, the Kragle (which is sheer brilliance).

Some parts of the story, particularly those being told as stories in-the-movie, have an even simpler style than the rest of the movie. Where most of the models are certainly possible with actual Lego bricks but complicated and thought-out and well-designed, the stories are animated with simple, square bricks only, which add to the feeling of “little-kids” while still communicating story very well. These parts are also narrated with silly little-kid sound effects, like the pirate ship that pbbbbbbs around like a motorbike, and it’s hilarious and lends a great touch.

The concept of “the man upstairs” is introduced early on as a God metaphor, but eventually develops into something far more sinister, as the dual personality of President Business and the real-life child’s no-nonsense father (Will Ferrell) comes into play towards the end. It’s not even a twist, really, but a natural extension of what Legos should be all about: playing and creating.

In fact the concept of a Lego Masterbuilder is one of the main points of the movie. Masterbuilders can rebuild the world around them, possessing the creativity to manipulate bricks into whatever they like. When the main character, Emmett, meets a Masterbuilder, she escapes with him by building a giant rocket motorcycle out of an alleyway (that eventually transforms so that it can fly away from the police). When Masterbuilders start to visualize the pieces around them and what they can make, they identify pieces individually with numbers, which I can only assume are the actual catalog pieces numbers of the various Lego bricks (again, a great, subtle touch).

edit: I forgot to mention the ending again, which is something I’d vaguely thought about beforehand and was not disappointed in. They thought of everything.

The movie is all about creativity, and possibility, and transmits the sheer wonder and amazement any kid playing with Legos can find. The Lego Movie was exactly everything that I could hope for from something trying to embody my childhood, and it was that and much much more.

Oh, and if you’re still not convinced, it features the voices of Will Ferrell (who I don’t mind as a villain), Charlie Day (who is great as a hyperexcited 1980’s spaceman), Liam Neeson (whose good cop/bad cop face-switching is hilarious, grounded in actual Lego pieces, and integral to the first half of the story), Morgan Freeman (fantastic as always), Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (as superheroes), Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams (as C-3PO and Lando!), and of course Shaquille O’Neal as himself.

If you cheated and read this without watching the movie, firstly you’re an idiot, secondly go watch it right this minute, thirdly once you’ve done that I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. Movie of the year. No doubt.