The Lego Movie

Getting right back into it after the 86th Academy Awards, this week we’ll be looking at the surprisingly popular Lego Movie (sorry, we know it’s kinda late!). Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, it stars Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett (and many, many others). It is rating PG for mild action and rude humor.

The LEGO Movie is a 3-D animated film that follows the life of an everyday Lego mini-figure (for lack of a better word), Emmet, (Pratt) who is identified as “the most extraordinary person”, “special”, and a “master-builder” after an encounter with a mysterious girl, Wyldstyle (Banks). He is told that he is the only person who can save the Lego universe. With the help of Batman (Arnett), Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) and other “master-builders”, Emmet goes on a journey to save the universe, but struggles with finding himself in the process.

8.5 out of 10

What a stupid movie.

Now let me explain. Yes this movie was silly. I mean, it’s Legos for Pete’s sake. If that’s not silly then I don’t know what is. But sometimes stupid and silly is good. And in The LEGO Movie’s case, a great thing. In a way, it’s The Expendables for kids. Stupid, mindless action (I guess) and fun. It’s just a fun movie to watch from beginning to end: a fast paced, endorphin releasing adventure. Hell, it’s got Batman, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings; everything.

There’s really not much to analyze, but I’ll do my best. The cast is star studded, featuring all sorts of big names including Arnett, Banks, Pratt, Freeman, Will Ferrell, Charlie Day, Will Forte, Dave Franco, Jonah Hill, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum, and even Shaq. The voice acting is pretty good, and everyone seemed to actually put in effort. Hey, Will Arnett could probably do a better job as Batman than Ben Affleck! (I kid, I kid).

lego movie characters

The animation is very impressive. The work to make the fire, smoke, and water look like it’s actually made out of Legos was very cool. Every detail was so specific and careful, helping the universe look so good. The whole universe, both in terms of its myth and its physical attributes, is created to perfection. It’s not hard to imagine playing this story with your own Legos as a child.

Though I did say this movie is stupid, I will be the first one to admit how smart the script is. There are so many ambiguous references that are hilarious if you understand them. I remember being the only person in the movie theater that laughed when Batman says “he’s the boyfriend you deserve” (a reference to the end of The Dark Knight). They’re not afraid to make obscure references and sometimes tease cultural icons, making fun of Gandalf and Dumbledore at points in the film. The writing of this film is impressive and rich with pop culture references.

As depth-less as this movie may appear, its message is honestly pretty deep, especially for the young children that this movie is targeted towards. Not trying to force myself into analyzing themes of a film (especially a movie like this) but the fact that The LEGO Movie actually has a relevant, important message is pretty cool. Everyone is unique, even if all signs point otherwise. Such an uplifting movie. The ending gives you all kind of feels and if you don’t get emotional then you’re not human. It’s kind of like the polar opposite of the Broadway musical Avenue Q, if you’ve ever seen or heard of that.

I can’t finish without mentioning the song ‘Everything is Awesome’, which is, well, awesome. It’s catchy and fits the tone of the movie so well. You’ll be singing it for days. Overall, the entire movie is so much fun and features so many intelligent jokes that contribute to its comedy. There is no doubt that this a silly movie, but seriously, who cares? It’s awesome.

8 out of 10

Everything (About this movie) is awesome!

Seriously, logistically, this must have had Village Roadshow, Vertigo and all of the other producers sweating bullets. Yes, when kids see brightly colored Lego-versions of their favorite characters, they’re gonna flock to the movies (And shell out the extra $3.00 for 3-D to boot) but what about parents? And, if we’re shooting for the moon here, teenagers?

Well, that got me thinking of all of the times I dragged my parents to hour and a half long kid films as a child. Now, those were great times, they probably wouldn’t have seen Shrek 2, Toy Story or Wall-E without them but, then again, they also wouldn’t have seen Shark Tale, The Wild, or Home on the Range without them (There’s a bonus if you actually remember those).

What I’m getting at here is that animation can get pretty dicey. It’s a category rife with beautiful opportunities and untapped potential but it’s also rife with money-makers: half-baked, loud, watch-checkers that’ll keep your kid entertained for $11. And sitting at the tippity top of this category is an animated movie that’s based off of a specific toy or brand.

Lego Movie really didn’t go with that route whatsoever. It was not an 100 minute commercial, though probably did work just as well as one. No, Lego Movie actually had me laughing. It also had me physically shocked that I was enjoying it so well. I read that it was laugh-a-minute but that was totally wrong: I laughed about every thirty seconds.

Now, given that just last week we looked at some of the first-tier Oscar picks, this praise may sound ridiculous but I thoroughly enjoyed this. This movie blindsided me in plenty of ways. First of all, it may operate in a world of blocks and bricks but its a beautiful film. Attentively animated and really kinetic but not busy. Second, it gets all of these different characters and licenses together in an organic way that doesn’t feel forced.

And, most importantly, it has a lot of heart. Really, I was surprised that this movie had a thoughtful message. Did it completely go against everything Lego says? Yes, Lego does not want you to practice what it preaches apparently. But it executes it in a pretty darn mature manner without getting taking itself too seriously.

Emmet, voiced by Pratt

Emmet, voiced by Pratt

Aside from the lack of Mega-Blocks jokes (I thought they’d be a good sport if that happened), I really can not say much more about this movie except that I loved it. Even if you are a self-proclaimed adult, break down that steel age-barrier and see it, you certainly will not regret it. You just might enjoy it more than most kids will.

IMDB: 7.9
Metacritic: 83
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. This week we’ll be tackling Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, sequel to 2004’s Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy. Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Christina Applegate, it  is rated PG-13 for  sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.

After leaving San Diego for New York, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Applegate), lead great lives with their son Walter. However, when the boss (cameo by Harrison Ford) of the WBC decides to fire Ron and promote Veronica, Ron leaves his family and moves back to San Diego. He struggles for months on end until he is offered a job at the new 24 hours  a day news channel. After accepting the job and getting his news crew, Brian Fantanta (Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (Carell), back together, Ron changes broadcasting history forever, gaining immortal fame with this new job in New York. However, Ron encounters various problems he must overcome: his new rival Jack Lime (James Mardsen), a burning desire to beat Veronica, and his inability to connect with his son.

7 out of 10

Rating comedy movies such as this one is slightly different than rating a regular film. Judging it as a regular film is different than judging it as a comedy film. The rating I gave above is a rating of this film as a movie. However, in terms of a comedy, I would give this film a 9 or so. I did exactly what I wanted to do: laugh my ass off.

Whether or not you liked this movie may be heavily based on what you expected. If you expected a witty, smartly written movie, you may be slightly disappointed. If you were expecting a movie similar to the first one, you also may have been slightly disappointed. But if you just expected to laugh, then you’d definitely be pleased. Anchorman 2 is distinctly different than it’s predecessor. It is (somehow) more over the top, goofier, and stupider. It’s hard to hit it exactly the nose, but the tone felt different. The story and the characters  all had a different feel to them. This wasn’t a problem for me, but if you are someone who loved the first movie for that tone, then the change might be a bit of a bummer for you.

But as I said earlier, I laughed my ass off. This movie was so funny because of few things. 1) The acting and 2) The ridiculousness. You may ask how I can call this necessarily good acting, and that’s completely understandable. The cast won’t be winning any awards for their performances. Not to be cliched, but all these actors really become their character. Ferrell, Carell, Rudd, and Koechner really are a team and their actions and personalities are so whacky and really freaking hilarious.

The over-the-topness of it all also contributes to the hilarity of it all. The dialogue and the actions all tend to be… just weird, really. My favorite character is Brick Tamland, just because of how odd he is. The stuff that he says is so random, and so stupid, and as a result, it’s just so funny. I hope most of you remember “I love lamp” from the first film… Golden. Brick’s character is used even more prominently in this film, and it really works.

Another over the top, ridiculous scene is the fight scene towards the very end, when many A-List actors (Tina Fey, Sacha Baron Cohen, Liam Neeson) make cameos and at that point, it’s hard to figure out what is going on (but it’s still hilarious!!!). During this scene, I remembered asking myself what the hell I was watching. After digesting it, I’m still not sure, but all I know is that it was definitely one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen.

In the end, I’m giving it a 7 based on how it is as a film. It’s hardly a film that appeals to everyone, and it’s a style of comedy that you really have to be okay with in order to like the film. If you don’t like random humor, then this is not the film for you. Personally, I found it to be one of the funnier movies of the year and something that I really enjoyed watching.

8 out of 10

Comedy’s a pretty tough thing to do.

So far, I think this blog has really gone over drama and action. When making both of these types of these films, you’re usually playing one note (That’s certainly not terribly easy either). Comedy, however, has about a billion subtypes you can go into, each of which have their own fans and haters.

Anchorman, thankfully, played to a lot of those types. It’s a random, witty, and satirical masterpiece that eased its way from one-liner to one-liner thus weaving the entire movie into one ball of comedic quotables. In middle school, I couldn’t go a couple of months without hearing somebody, beaming with originality, saying “Stay classy ______” on the morning show. Aside from that, Anchorman doesn’t really have a plot. In fact, I don’t think I could give you a completely accurate summary whatsoever. And that’s what makes it so great.

burgundy

Comedy sequels, to say the least, do not have that hot of a track record. Typically, they turn out to be a re-tread of old jokes (That may have not been that funny in the first place) that the writers think are original just because more money was injected into them and they were “cranked up to eleven”.

Anchorman 2, however, takes a different direction than its predecessor in that it has a bit more of a plot (Emphasis on the “a bit” here) and it extentuates some of its characters. It sacrifices some of its talent with one-liners for some more broad and generally direct jokes (To be honest, I can’t quite quote that much off-hand).

But, to me, it was really worth it. It was an extremely satisfying tackle of 24-hour news (Without spoiling, Burgundy has some ideas which resemble the strategies of a few certain networks) coupled with a barrage of randomness and visual gags that I really appreciated.

If you are not into that type of humor in the first place (This seems like a poor choice for you then, doesn’t it?) then its going to be a long, tortuous ride for you. Thankfully, there may be enough zingers to keep you interested.

But whether you like it or you don’t, you must admire that it is trying something new. Anchorman barely references or echoes any of the jokes from the first and, if anything, that helps raise it to the level of the original. It had enough material from its predecessor that it could have Hangover 2’d this entire film but this was in no way lazy endeavor.

IMDB: 6.4
Metacritic: 61
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%