In the Lego Universe, wizard Vitruvius fails to protect a superweapon called ‘The Kragle’ from the evil Lord Business. He prophesises that someone who will be known as ‘The Special’ will find a way to stop it from being used. Several years later, Emmett, a hapless and happy construction worker, makes an important discovery when he meets Wildstyle, a woman searching for something on his construction site. Finding out that he is ‘The Special’, Emmett must go on an epic journey with his friends to stop Lord Business from using The Kragle to permanently freeze the world’s inhabitants; but will he be able to fulfil his destiny in order to save the world he cares about?

The Lego Movie (2014) – Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Is The Lego Movie appropriate for kids

Rating: U

Running Length: 100 mins

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell

Genre: Animated, Comedy

REVIEW

‘The Lego Movie’ is the second children’s film by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose previous foray into this market was the hugely enjoyable ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’. Their anarchic and often childlike worldview, which is shot through with a healthy warmth, is applied this time to the massive global brand of Lego, with very successful results. What Lord and Miller have done with a little Danish building block is frankly astounding, both visually and through sheer fixed-grin fun.

The strength of ‘The Lego Movie’ lies in its ability to appeal to all audiences whilst patronising none of them. Children who see it will enjoy the frenetic (but never over the top) style of the film. Its humour flies at the audience at breakneck speed with many visual and verbal puns that work for children as well as they do for parents. As an adult viewer, it’s also hard not to be impressed visually with a film that brings static toys magically to life in a way not seen since the heydays of Pixar.

For something that could have been mishandled into becoming just a massive cynical toy commercial, the film succeeds in showing genuine heart; it promotes a positive message of acceptance, individuality and friendship throughout. ‘The Lego Movie’ cleverly allows the older audience to remember the experience of playing with Lego with their families and, particularly for parents, when they play with their own children. One of the most pertinent themes examines exactly how you play with your Lego; are you a follow-the-instructions type, or are you a creative rebel? Did this shape not only your childhood, but the person you grew up to be? To tap into such a recognised aspect of childhood and to invoke that feeling on-screen with such aplomb is a rare feat indeed.

IS ‘THE LEGO MOVIE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

As a general point that applies to the whole film it is worth noting that everyone and everything is made of Lego, and so action in ‘The Lego Movie’ is largely shown as without consequence, namely because it is clear that children can always put pieces back together. There is no sense of permanent injury, pain, or blood. On-screen depictions of threat are therefore diminished. Injury or death is uncommon for characters and not emotionally dwelled upon leaving the audience little time to become distressed. The fast pace of film also helps in lessening effects of any on-screen trauma, as the audience is not left time to over-think before the action moves onto the next spectacle.

However there is one scene towards the end of the film where a character loses his head but this is played for comic effect and although the character is killed, his death is treated whimsically.

Arguably the most distressing scene in the film is a scene involving the character of Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) who, at the behest of Lord Business, has to freeze his parents with Krazy glue. In earlier scenes it was established that they shared a loving relationship and therefore this scene could be upsetting for young children. However Bad Cop is reunited with his parents at the end of the film so distress is limited to the brief duration of the scene itself.

At one stage of the film Bad Cop has two faces – one good and one bad – but in order to freeze his parents he has his good face ‘removed’ so that he can act without conscience. This moment could be confusing and distressing to a younger audience. However, the effects of said removal are reversed later in the film so any distress should not be not long-lasting.

A compound shown to be ‘safe’ is invaded by enemy characters leading to the destruction of the entire compound and characters being captured or having to flee. This scene shows mild peril but the scene is presented without a sense of true threat or urgency; instead the fun of the action is the predominant feel of this scene.

Following the invasion and destruction of the compound some captured characters are ‘tortured’ using electric shocks but this is a brief scene and played for general comic effect.

There is a lot of general action in the film that is depicted in a largely comical fashion and although some scenes simulate gun play there is no injury detail shown nor prolonged effects of violence. All of the fights scenes have a very cartoonish feel and although action is commonplace throughout the film it is never presented as threatening.

‘Wildstyle’ has several scenes where she physically fights characters. These are presented as comical and in a stereotypical martial arts fashion without lasting effects and without injury detail. Similarly a character of Unikitty (Alison Brie) who had previously been presented as an adorable ‘Kawaii’ (Japanese style cute) kitten at the latter stages of the film transforms into an angry chaotic destructive beast. This sudden change may alarm younger audience members but the scene is played for entirely comic effect.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

In aiming to appeal to all members of the audience, ‘The Lego Movie’ could have fallen into the Hollywood trap of clearly having separation between jokes aimed purely at children and potentially innuendo-laden jokes for adults; that ‘ The Lego Movie’ avoids this (bar some nostalgia references that will go over the heads of most  kids) by simply being fun for all also plays into the film’s overall suitability. Any family or even individual who watches ‘The Lego Movie’ should be enriched and nourished in the presence of an excellent family film which promotes positive, but not self righteous values that don’t just apply for children but inspire for just being a better person generally. In the world of Lego, everything is awesome, and appropriate for all ages.

  • Violence:  2/5 (there is a constant stream of action but it is all involving Lego and presented comically)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (the scene involving Bad Cop and his parents may cause some minor distress to a very young audience)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (the cartoonish visuals and zippy pace distract from any lasting effects of on-screen action)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (limited to a few scenes involving threat to characters but depicted with no lasting effects)  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of conformity, the loss of childhood, dictatorships and large-scale destruction

GUEST REVIEW – Words by Anthony Lancaster.

Anthony Can be found on the internet as a twitter curator (@ubiquitoushoody), moderating his personal brand (warning: contains multitudes).

 

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