The Lego Movie (2014)     ★★

A big, loud, mess of plot that tries way too hard to be clever, The Lego Movie is the film that took directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller away from their amazing Meatballs franchise in order to exhaust ninety minutes in pursuit of the exact same message available in the first five of Toy Story 3. Yes, kids like to use their imaginations. And so do the filmmakers, or at least that’s what they would like us to believe, as three seconds cannot go by without an attempt to nudge parents with forced witticisms so hard I thought I was going to fall out of my chair, and usually that only happens from laughter.

Still for a film that seems to be saying “take this Pixar” with every frame, I find it odd that it tries to milk so much humor out of other characters. Sure we can all jump on the hate-wagon when the Scary Movie films rely on other films for their gags, but let’s roll out the red carpet of laughter for Batman, Superman, and the cast of Star Wars, who are only funny because of who they are. Except for the fact that they are not funny, at all. I’m not sure how the licensing played out, but as far as I’m concerned for the amount of mileage this film gets on the backs of others, I’d say a bunch of people got robbed.

Elsewhere The Lego Movie spends its time furiously assaulting the audience with plot, none of which makes any sense, while it hides behind the fact that it doesn’t have to make any sense. But it’s okay, a third act reveal is going to make the entire story even more meaningless than it already is. It’s hard to even enjoy the animation – which is refreshing to watch, but ultimately just as easy to get used to as anything else – because there is a non-stop barrage of new names and dimensions popping up in the dialogue to sort through. There is a difference between a coherent, economic screenplay, and what parades around on screen in The Lego Movie. Less is almost always more, but instead Lord and Miller rather mistakenly believe their film can’t possibly be too much of a good thing. This is one of the first mainstream animated films that actually believes it’s smarter than it is. The “A for effort” is reflected in my generous two stars.

Oh, and anyone in grade school knows that a vowel preceding a single consonant has a long sound. It would be pronounced KRAYGLE not KRAGGLE.

The Verdict: Pan