Everything is awesome, or it is according to Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt) who works as a construction worker in this city where building things up to knock them down then rebuild them again is the main concern. Their leader is President Business (Will Ferrell) who rules over the land as a benevolent dictator, except his frequent proclamations to keep the populace upbeat are masking a sinister cause, for what they don't know is he had a dealing with the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) eight and a half years ago. This ended with the actual Lord Business striking him down to gather his power, only the wizard had a prophecy to impart: one day, a Master Builder would lead a revolution against the President...
There goes a theory, a kind of apocalyptic one at that, which posits a future where the surface of Planet Earth is covered with Lego bricks seeing as how nobody ever throws them out and they keep making them, so it won't be the cockroaches which survive, it'll be those little yellow figures and their constructions. Something wrong with that, aside from the obvious, is that there will be nobody to play with them, but here was where The Lego Movie stepped in to demonstrate the enduring appeal which had itself been illustrated by the continuing popularity of the toy building blocks among all ages. That this became one of the biggest, er, blockbusters of all time was testament to that.
Only Disney's Frozen had a possible threat to its dominance at the time of its release, and that wasn't a hundred minute advert for a megagiant international company, but where an effort such as Mac and Me was rightly lambasted for its singleminded pushing of junk food on its young audience, it didn't seem so bad with Lego as this was a product with genuine, well-meaning value, one which writers and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller made the cornerstone of their movie. Imagination was what this valued, and if there was ever a toy which propagated seeds of invention in the minds of its consumers, it was Lego. So much so that the villain here was determined to bring the kind of order to the world of play that stopped that kind of stuff in its tracks, therefore it was imperative our hero had to find a way to allow imagination to win out - yet this acknowledged rules were no bad thing, only poor implementation of them was.
Unfolding like a cross between The Never-Ending Story and The Matrix only with toys for characters, The Lego Movie sounded like what Vitruvius describes as a "cat poster" in concept but in practice those who had faith in the directors after their gem Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs would tell you it would not be some empty inspirational tract better suited to a corporate video (though parting parents from their hard-earned cash was admittedly one objective). Their constant irreverence combined with a self-awareness of the conventions of what they were dealing with led to a wealth of visual and verbal quirks, quips and personality as Emmet happens by chance to see a lone warrior named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) skulking around his building site one night as everyone else is clocking off, and entranced by her beauty is suddenly plunged into an adventure.
Emmet shared a trait with many a hero, in that like Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter before him, he thinks he just some ordinary guy only to find out he is the one who the prophecy foretold and has special powers he was unaware of. Except the joke is here, he is nothing of the kind, he really is just an everyday, unspectacular bloke who by pure chance has gotten in over his head with foiling Business's plans. Assembled not unlike a Lego rollercoaster, the movie flings Emmet around, suffering vertiginous lows and dizzying highs and meeting a host of pop culture references including superheroes (Will Arnett perfect as an egomaniac Batman, Jonah Hill's Green Lantern the unwanted friend of Channing Tatum's Superman), merchandise from the Star Wars line, and various callbacks to Lego products old and new. Viewers of a certain age will be especially cheered to see the eighties Spaceman prove crucial to the denouement (eventually) among the continuing riot of colour and gags, along with a dollop of sentiment to sink in once the fun had run its course - if indeed it did. Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.
[Warner's Blu-ray looks predictably bright and clear, and the extras are worth investigating too, especially Batman's song. Also available as a DVD and in 3D, the release date is Monday the 21st of July 2014.]