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Susan Granger's review of 'The Lego Movie'

Published 7:00 pm, Friday, February 14, 2014
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Totally redefining product placement, this energetic, eye-popping 3D animated comedy/adventure celebrates the childhood experience of creative play with Denmark's Lego interlocking plastic construction toys.

In the miniature city of Bricksburg, the benevolent wizard Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) confronts power-hungry Corporate CEO President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) with an ancient prophecy that a Special will someday arise to dismantle the rigid conformity that keeps its citizens confined to their respective realms. Eight-and-a-half years later, Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), an anti-corporate Goth girl activist, enlightens lowly construction worker Emmet Brikowski (voiced by Chris Platt), who is an obedient conformist, repeating instructions like: always use a turn signal, park between the lines, root for the local sports teams, drink overpriced coffee and don't forget to smile. When he inadvertently stumbles upon the mysterious "Piece of Resistance," Wyldstyle misguidedly envisions generic Emmet as the master-builder leader, even though he isn't "the most important, most talented, most interesting and most extraordinary person in the universe."

Meanwhile, as Business plots total domination, using a secret super-weapon, his henchman, swivel-headed Bad Cop/Good Cop (voiced by Liam Neeson), is determined to catch Emmet, who's aided by Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) and other cohorts (voiced by Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Charlie Day). There's also Lando Calrissian (voiced by Billy Dee Williams), Green Lantern (voiced by Jonah Hill) and Superman (voiced by Channing Tatum).

Screenwriters/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs") have created a cleverly satirical allegory, subversively filled with sight gags, amusing jokes, imaginative spectacles, a potent message and an unexpected plot twist at the conclusion. Plus, there are timely references to NSA surveillance, random public shootings, trigger-happy cops and erratic weather conditions. Inspiration comes from "The Truman Show," as a man suddenly begins to suspect that his perfect life might be manipulated, along with "Toy Story 2" and the "Star Wars" fantasies, among others.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Lego Movie" snaps together with an audacious, awesome 8, proving ordinary can be extraordinary.