The Lego Movie runs wild with imagination

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Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, and Morgan Freeman. Rated G.

Lego is smart enough to know that the children of today aren’t the first generation to be obsessed with building things out of interlocking bricks. Scoff at the slick merchandising all you want: The Lego Movie knows who its fans are: kids of all ages guaranteed to revel in a thrillingly handmade world where cars explode into tiny plastic orange flames and Green Lantern, Han Solo, and a “1980-something space guy” inhabit the same, whacked-out universe. Cue a smart, laugh-loaded tale that celebrates breaking away from mind-frying assembly instructions and never once takes itself seriously.

It helps hugely, of course, that Will Ferrell plays our baddie, Lord Business, a towering villain with two little plastic Lego City mugs for horns. He doesn’t like the anarchy that’s set into an array of mind-bendingly interlocked worlds, where minifgures constantly destroy and rebuild their environments. His master plan? To hold them all in place with a ray gun that shoots super glue.

Winningly, the film chooses one of Lego’s most generic figures, ever-smiling construction guy Emmet (Chris Pratt), as the vapid hero who just might save the day. One of the biggest targets of the jokes is a more traditional superhero, Batman (a hilariously hissing Will Arnett), who will only work with black bricks (and “sometimes very, very dark grey”). Other favourites include a Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) who just revolves his yellow head to change interrogation techniques; Morgan Freeman’s sarcastic, street-talking sooth-sayer; and the half-unicorn, half-anime-cat Unikitty, who only squeaks about puppies and cotton candy till it’s time to kick some ass.

The best thing about The Lego Movie, though, is how it follows its own, insane logic, one minute presenting a pirate wearing a giant, robotic Transformer-style suit, the next sailing into Cloud Cuckoo Land, a rainbow capital where you’re as likely to run into Gandalf as Abraham Lincoln.

Throw in a final act where the film goes Matrix-meta, and you’ve got something as busy and hyper as a Big Gulp–jacked eight-year-old. Refreshingly, though, nothing looks too slick or digitally generated. Wearing the 3-D glasses, it’s like being shrunken down to the size of a minifigure and thrown into the world’s biggest, craziest Lego construction site.

The Lego Movie is all about letting imaginations run wild, and in this, the megacompany is working a strength that’s made it a favourite since 1949. Don’t be surprised to find yourself busting out a few bricks when you get home. After, of course, a previously unscheduled Toys “R” Us run.

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