Who's have guessed that a movie with the most blatant merchandising tie-ins ever would still manage to be so entertaining?  The Lego Movie has plenty of toy tie-ins, but it also has some terrific action, a sly sense of humor, and plenty of pop culture references -- plus some metafictional moments tossed in as well.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is the ultimate regular guy and conformist in a world entirely made out of Lego.  Emmet always follows instruction manuals (from buildings to life), loves everything that's popular, and agrees with everyone in the hopes that they'll like him.  After a run-in with the free-spirited Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet gets the Piece of Resistance attached to him.  This convinces the blind old prophet Vitrivius (Morgan Freeman) that Emmet is "the Special," a MasterBuilder destined to save the Lego universes -- with some help from other MasterBuilders, from Batman (Will Arnett) to the cute-and-repressing-rage Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie), to the 1980s spaceman Benny (Charlie Day) to Lego characters ranging from Shakespeare to Michelangelo (sculptor) and Michaelangelo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle), and Lincoln.   Too bad Emmet doesn't seem to have any original ideas besides a double-decker couch.

It turns out that President Business (Will Ferrell) is also the evil Lord Business, a control freak who hates anyone showing any creativity.  Business' plan is to use a non-Lego artifact called Kragle to freeze all Legos in place on Taco Tuesday -- and send in his Micromanagers to pose them as he wants.  Business' enforcer is a split-personality police officer called Good Cop/Bad Cop (Lian Neeson), whose personality changes as his head spins around.  And there are plenty of robot cops and skeletons, not to mention vehicles, to chase the good guys,

The Lego Movie manages to be as entertaining in its own way as the original Toy Story.  The voice talent in The Lego Movie is impressive (especially Will Arnett as the self-important Batman and Liam Neeson alternating between menacing and silly), and the visual effects make almost the entire movie feel like it was built out of Lego sets.  There's lots of humor, some surprisingly touching moments, and plenty of excitement.  The Lego Movie is another terrific animated feature that has as much appeal for adults as for kids.

Overall grade: A-
Reivewed by James Lynch

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