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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lego Movie is an action-packed animated family-friendly adventure following original and existing Lego characters. Featuring an all-star voice cast and some of the brand's most popular figures (Batman, Superman, Gandalf, Wonder Woman, etc.), the inventive movie should appeal to all ages, from young Duplo players to teens who consider themselves Master Builders. Although there's nothing overly objectionable (a few mild exclamations like "dang," "heck," "stupid," and "darn"), there's definitely a lot of action and peril, plus quite a bit of violence with the villain's security forces shooting at the good guys, and a character getting "beheaded" (since minifig heads pop off) or erased (with nail polish remover). Kids will love seeing some of their favorite minifigures come to life, but of course they'll probably ask for the tie-in Lego kits after the movie.
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What's the story?
THE LEGO MOVIE opens with the legendary battle between evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and noble Master Builder Lord Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). Lord Business plans to dominate the entire Lego universe with a deadly weapon called the Kragle, but Vitruvius has a vision that a yellow-faced someone, the Special, will defeat the villainous Lord Business with the missing "piece of resistance." Years later, completely ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) spies a suspicious figure (Wyldstyle, voiced by Elizabeth Banks) on the construction site and, while following her, ends up finding the legendary red piece of resistance. Wyldstyle believes Emmet to be the Special and takes him to Vitruvius, but they soon realize he's more of a nice-guy rule follower than a visionary Master Builder. As Business and his cronies, led by a ruthless Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), attempt to steal the piece of resistance, Emmet must discover whether he has what it takes to be the Special and save Lego kind.
Is it any good?
Movies based on toys aren't ever this good, and it's a testament to the veteran animation filmmakers that this one is so smart, humorous, and visually fun to watch. The perfect cast of voice actors completely embodies their Lego counterparts: Pratt's adorable earnestness is legendary to any Parks and Recreation fan; Banks is a go-to girl-power voice; Arnett sounds exactly like Michael Keaton's Batman; and Freeman, Neeson, and Ferrell are master voice actors. But The Lego Movie is not just your typical animated adventure; there are real messages and sophisticated criticisms of popular culture and consumerism (rather subversive -- or very, very smart -- for a movie tied to a multi-billion-dollar toy company).
Like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter or Neo, Emmet embarks on the archetypal hero's journey -– complete with his own mystical guide (Vitruvius), intelligent and fierce love interest (Wyldstyle), and larger than life nemesis (Business). Along the way, Emmet bumps into a cadre of hilariously depicted minifigures, from superheroes to historical legends, like Shakespeare and Lincoln. The story contains various brilliant cameos, laugh-aloud one liners, and a live-action interlude that is surprisingly touching. Families with kids of all ages will love this reminder of the joy of playing and laughing together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies based on toys. How does The Lego Movie compare to the others, like Barbie or Transformers films? Does it make you want to get the Lego characters portrayed in the movie?
The movie pokes fun at aspects of popular culture, like dumbed-down TV comedies, catchy pop songs, and overpriced coffee. What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say?
How can we all apply Vitruvius' lesson that everyone is special if we believe in our own talents and abilities?
- In theaters: February 7, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: June 17, 2014
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett
- Directors: Christopher Miller, Phil Lord
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action and rude humor
- Last updated: December 2, 2019
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