Grade: A-

Directed Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Voiced by Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill

Everything is awesome! The tagline rings true in this family-friendly, tongue-in-cheek farce based on the building block toy. With an astounding voice cast, The Lego Movie might be the year's best animated film, even though there're still 10 months left in 2014.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The Lego Movie follows a down-on-his-luck construction worker Legoman named Emmit. The catch is that he doesn't realize just how down-on-his-luck he is. He has no friends. He's okay with paying $32 for a cup of coffee. He enjoys the mundane pop culture of everything in his surroundings (including the infectious song "Everything is AWSOME" that plays on the radio over and over again), not realizing he isn't anything spectacular. But, maybe that makes him spectacular. When he is misjudged as a MasterBuilder and the "chosen one" to save the world from President Businessman, the adventure truly begins.

Assembled for the adventure (pun intended) is the incredible voice cast, led by Chris Pratt as Emmit and including Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Charlie Day, Will Arnett, Will Forte, Jonah Hill, Jake Johnson, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders, and even Shaquille O'Neal.

When they first announced plans for a movie based on the Lego brand, it seemed like a big April Fool's Day joke, or a horrible nightmare like the Battleship film. What has been created, though, has beat all expectations for an uproarious, clever ride. What sells the film is the quirky animation, leaving everything to Lego-builder dreams. From the clouds and smoke, to the water and fire, everything looks like it's made out of the little pieces. The frustrating thing for me is the jealousy I feel for the people who are actually able to build things with Legos. I loved playing with them as a kid, but I was definitely a blueprint follower when it came to building. The screenplay also works well here, with plenty of jokes for kids and adults alike. It's as if Lego and the Toy Story franchise got together on the weekend and wrote a great story. There were enough small things here and there that I'm sure I missed a few and I definitely will need to see it again.

The energy and fast-paced nature of the film can make it feel a little too much like an episode of a TV program sometimes, but the speed also works for what it is: an oversized amount of play time from a kid's perspective. As imagination grows and the scenes play out (bouncing from the Old West to Fantasyland and others), it's as if we're along for the ride of a ten year old's dream playground. Good thing no one left any pieces on the floor. Stepping on those is one of the worst things ever.

Rating: PG
Runtime: 100 minutes

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