‘The Lego Movie’ is funny, visibly stunning product placement

The film provides plenty of laughs for both adults and kids.

The film provides plenty of laughs for both adults and kids.

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You see, “Mac and Me”? This is how it is done. What McDonald’s got wrong in crafting their 1988 cinematic love affair to the Golden Arches, Lego absolutely slays with their own full-length product placement extravaganza, “The Lego Movie.”

 It helps that the movie is pretty funny, too. Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s absurdist humor on display in projects like “21 Jump Street” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” works wonders with the simple story of an ordinary construction worker named Emmet who becomes “the Special,” the one who is fated to bring peace in the Lego universe. This incorporation of a traditional fantasy trope lends the movie a familiar plot structure that Lord and Miller enrich with comedy and striking visuals.

The voice casting is absolutely top notch. Chris Pratt of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” stars as Emmet, kicking off a year of starring roles for Pratt, who will next be seen in this summer’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” as well as “Jurassic World” next year. 

Will Arnett’s Batman interpretation has a good chance at becoming the best that has ever been on the silver screen. Another highlight is Liam Neeson’s character, Good Cop/Bad Cop, which made me wonder why Neeson took so long to break out a comedic performance in his career. One hopes that once he is done with taking out bad guys and saving various females, he can do more films like “The Lego Movie.”

Despite all this, the cynic in me is uneasy about a movie that is specifically designed to sell a product tie-in so boldly, but hell if the movie is not great. 

A late third act twist reminiscent of the ending of “St. Elsewhere” is a little odd. However, the twist (without giving away too much) provides a moral weight in the movie with its message about  the dynamics between parents and their children. At its core, “The Lego Movie” is about flexibility, compromise and mutual understanding.

Also noteworthy is the absolutely stunning usage of stop motion and CGI animation that makes one wonder how they could possibly craft a two-hour film entirely out of interlocking plastic blocks. It is such a neat detail that the water, fire and even steam from a train are all constructed out of little lego pieces.

I have yet to come across a Lord and Miller work that I have not adored, and “The Lego Movie” certainly keeps the record going. 

For the young and young at heart, “The Lego Movie” is a definite treat.