**** (out of four)
I know. Four stars for "The Lego Movie"?
Believe it. "The Lego Movie" is the funniest, most fun movie in (insert considerable amount of time), and I can't wait to see it again. By the way: It's written and directed by the guys who helmed the excellent "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and directed the surprising "21 Jump Street." "Lego" isn't some run-of-the-mill, kids-only shrug fest like virtually every other animated effort out there. Its whizzing, 3-D depiction of Legos -- oops, apparently the plural of Lego is Lego -- feels fresh and exciting. And the movie's hardly an ad for toys. It's a sincere, hilarious endorsement of imagination and what it can be used to build.
Soon-to-be-huge-movie-star Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation," "Guardians of the Galaxy") voices Emmet, a lonely construction worker whose great achievement is being an instruction-following cog in the machine. His favorite song is the society-wide hit "Everything is Awesome," his favorite restaurant is "any chain restaurant" and his favorite show is TV's beloved "Where Are My Pants?" which sounds like something out of "Idiocracy." Emmet's life changes when he stumbles onto the Piece of Resistance, which, according to a prophecy relayed by wise old Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), means Emmet is the most important person in the universe and the key to stopping President Business (Will Ferrell) from destroying the world.
The rate of jokes in "The Lego Movie" is beyond mega-fast, and if I told you the percentage of winners you'd call me a liar. Emmet develops a strong connection with and fondness for a brave woman who goes by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and who, to Emmet's chagrin, is dating Batman (Will Arnett). Some may find "The Lego Movie" too fast or random; I thought it was an exhilarating, perfectly voiced sprint. When it breathes, it knows how to value collaboration and independence, involved parenting and adolescent freedom, a kid's perspective and an adult's sense of humor.
That balance prevents what could have been a patronizing view of blue-collar workers and folks who don't shoot for the stars. Instead, the film teaches kids and reminds adults that you are the primary excitement manager of your life. Anyone can be great, and "The Lego Movie" shows that any movie can be great too.
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