THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

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The Matrix or ‘How it all came together’.

Since the 90’s boom of intelligent animation, Aladdin, Toy Story, Nightmare Before Christmas etc, western film-makers have realised that you don’t have to aim cartoons/animations solely at kids, the grown-ups can be included in a way that doesn’t alienate the little ‘uns (of course the Japanese have known this for years). Finally, the west have realised that a family film can be just that, for all the family, not something the adults have to sit through so little Timmy/Tammy can have their fun. Sure, there are still plenty of films out there that don’t have this remit but every now and then a film comes out that is just downright entertaining across the board of ages. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

The last film like this was Wreck It Ralph, a well thought out animation that had story and character at the top of its priorities. Like Ralph, The Lego Movie is a joy. Similarly, a well constructed story with 3 dimensional characters as key.
The hero’s journey has several stages and pretty much all are followed here. They say there are only seven basic plots and the adhering to one or more of these combined will result in a well structured story.

What directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have achieved with this fantastic piece of storytelling is incredible; the metaphors for life using the wonderful world of Lego come in thick and fast and also manage to be very funny. Clever, astute and paying perfect tribute to these famous plastic bricks and all they represent to both kids and adults. Without mentioning the word Lego once in the whole film, Lord and Miller make a wonderful statement about the power of imagination both inside and out of the box.

The voice cast is a dream, Chris Pratt (recently in Her and soon to be seen as one of the Guardians of the Galaxy) is our protagonist, Emmet, an average construction worker, happy to be just fitting in and playing along with societies rules until the day he finds the piece of resistance (see what they did there?). He finds himself thrust into a world he had previously no knowledge of, becoming extraordinary in the process and also, possible saviour of the Lego world. There is the perfect blend of innocence and everyman in his voice work and he pitches it perfectly.

Will Ferrell is brilliant as the evil Dr Business (best baddies’ name since Dr Evil). The ever-talented Elizabeth Banks plays the love interest WyldStyle and, unlike most love interests in Hollywood, really gets to have a journey. Will Arnett is Batman, giving his best in rasp and creating a spoilt, selfish and very funny Batman. Allison Brie (Community) is making her mark in the world outside television, here playing the always positive Unikitty and gets one of the best moments in the film.
Morgan Freeman is the Moses/Morpheus-a-like and has some great lines. Also starring, Dave Franco, Charlie Day, Will Forte, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (as Superman and The Green Lantern with a wonderful recurring joke) and the irrepressible Nick Offerman as ye olde pirate, Metal Beard is very funny.

This is the kind of film you should be showing your kids. The message is to find your element and run with it. More of these kinds of films please, filled with love of story and life lessons for the little ‘uns and the grown ups too.
The Lego Movie over a bunch of Despicable Me types any day of the week.

“Emmet, don’t worry about what others are doing, you must embrace what is special about you”

Just brilliant.

4/5

BUY ON BLU-RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE

 

THE KINGS OF SUMMER (2013)

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It was with unexpected joy that there were a lot laugh out loud moments in this film.
It is not strictly a comedy, just a film that knows how to get to the funny bone through situation as opposed to a set up gag.

It is an oddity, in so far as it refuses to go where you expect, which is why it may not do as well as it should. Hard to compartmentalise for the marketeers.
The basic premise is three teenage friends decide to run away from their respective homes and build a house in the woods to live in.

Nick Robinson as Joe, our main protagonist, delivers a performance layered with teenage nuance, confusion and angst and is definitely one to watch. Gabriel Basso (Super 8) plays Joe’s best friend, Patrick and it feels like they have known each other for many years and share a wealth of history.
Moises Arias is the wildcard as Biaggio, a Golem-like oddity who is really the heart of the film. He is absolutely brilliant, delivering strange like no other.

The supporting cast are mostly well-known-the excellent Nick Offerman is Joe’s Dad struggling to keep himself happy living alone with his son, Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson play Patrick’s Mum and Dad with the perfect pitch of ‘parents who just don’t understand’ and their repartee is a joy to watch. Allison Brie (Community) is Joe’s sister who no longer lives at home and Eugene Cordero is her dumb boyfriend and confidently brings his funny to the table. Mary Lynn Rajskub and Thomas Middleditch play cops and every scene they’re in is a treat.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts delivers a comedy that includes some true emotional journeys. It’s interesting to find out that he directed 5 eps of Funny or Die Presents (Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s comedy lovechild) and a few of the actors have also appeared in this show. Work with people you know, you trust and are talented. Simple equation.
And that’s what he’s done.

Also, worth mentioning is the camerawork beautifully lensed by Ross Riege, the soundtrack (Golden Clouds-The Orb feat Lee Perry, stunning), and the brilliant script penned by Chris Galletta.

The trailer quotes a review saying “Superbad and Stand By Me combine to form Sundance’s funniest comedy” Not far off at all.

Definitely worth a looksee. A surprising gem.

3.8/5

BUY IT ON BLU-RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE