I’m trying to get the bad taste of That Awkward Moment out of my brain and I’m ready for a good movie. I’d even take a decent movie at this point. Do we get that with George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Monuments Men? Will The Lego Movie be a nostalgia classic or will it be as painful as stepping on Legos in bare feet? Keep reading to find out which weekend movie is worth your money.
The Lego Movie
I never collected Legos when I was growing up. My parents gave me the lesser Lego toys – Construx. Long story short, I haven’t dedicated hours, days and years of my life building castles and pirate ships. So, when I saw the trailer for The Lego Movie, I wasn’t overly ecstatic about it.
It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised.
The Lego Movie follows an average builder named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt). He lives his life, just as everyone else in the city, to meet the status quo of “Awesome.” After a bizarre circumstance, he finds himself as the center of a prophecy where he becomes “The Special” meant to save the world. He is taken along in this adventure by the far more skilled Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). These characters travel through other Lego worlds like The Old West and Middle Zealand to find a way to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from freezing the city and ending life as they know it.
Come to think of it, The Lego Movie follows the exact same plot as The Matrix. It’s The Matrix for kids.
Without wasting any more time, you should know that The Lego Movie is great. While it could have quickly become an advertisement for the countless Lego sets out there, it is genuine fun. The Lego brand is on a hot streak with their ventures into licensed video games ranging from Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter and Marvel. They know how to capitalize on fan-favorite brands and have the ability to inject self-effacing humor throughout. Much of the enjoyment comes in the small details. I loved that the Spaceman had a broken helmet, just like what happens to the tiny toy helmets in reality. Also, the horses in the Old West just hobble up and down considering their legs were never built to move. There are plenty of winks to Lego junkies that even non-fans can grasp.
Written and directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord (of 21 Jump Street), The Lego Movie is enjoyable from start to finish. These two writers have crafted this animated flick as a smart movie for both children and adults. It’s rare for animated flicks to reach adults. Typically, a (Dreamworks) movie will add in a few pop culture references to keep an older crowds’ attention. The Lego Movie doesn’t dumb it down for the kids. No flatulence at all! Also, it is basically an action movie complete with car chases, wild west shootouts and explosions. Except for exploding debris, small Lego bricks fly in every direction.
While this movie is full of cameo appearances by collectible Lego characters, the standout is Batman (Will Arnett), who gets his fair share of screen time. Note to every filmmaker ever: Adding Batman in your movie is never a bad thing. His brooding character takes the heroes for a ride in his Batmobile as he blasts his his self-produced scream-metal, where he sings about the sadness of being an orphan. The humor works, I promise.
I wasn’t laughing the entire way through The Lego Movie, but I had a consistent smile on my face. And when the laughs did come, they were very effective. I see this movie having a lot of replay value. This is the kind of movie I wanted to see when I first saw Wreck-It-Ralph (Which sold itself as a video game movie, but ended up being a movie about candy). It is exactly what the title says it is, A Lego Movie.
This movie will be a success. They are already planning a sequel and I’m completely fine with that. I wonder if they’ll draw less from DC the next time around. It’s unlikely though, as Warner Animation Group made this movie.
If this movie was released last year, it would have been steep competition to Frozen for best animated film. This is the animated film to beat in 2014. This is a family film worth seeing.
The Monuments Men
The Monuments Men follows an unlikely group of soldiers comprised of older art curators, architects and historians as they are tasked by FDR to travel to war-ravaged Europe in 1944 to save the world’s art. George Clooney, with a mustache, leads the group as an Indiana Jones type art historian. That is, if Indiana Jones was very dull and just rode around in a car around the French countryside. So yeah, exactly like Indiana Jones. But one thing Clooney’s character believes is that every piece of art belongs in its respective museum. The movie shows Hitler in his Beetlejuice-inspired city model room as he plans for his grand Fuhrer Museum. This movie would have us believe that the museum was his ultimate goal. All he needed to do was conquer the world and take all the Jews’ art. Either that or burn it. Sort of an ‘If I can’t have it, then no one can’ mentality.
The true account of this little-known group of heroes is pretty incredible. There were 345 members of the Monuments Men (and Women, of course) that hid behind enemy lines to save one-of-a-kind paintings and sculptures. Many of the pieces we are familiar with, still exist today thanks to these brave men and women. The movie, instead, tells us that a group of seven well-known celebrities split up to save art and look at maps.
When hearing about advance press for this movie, the reviews were mixed because this movie couldn’t quite find its tone. It apparently jumped from WWII old-fashioned flick to comedy to heist movie. In truth, this movie has a consistent tone – Dull. The attempts at comic relief failed. The tension of the Nazi threat wasn’t apparent. Instead of an art heist flick, it was more of a treasure hunting movie without the adventure.
Take a look at the cast: Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey). How could a movie with that cast fail? The fault lies with Clooney as the director. The editing and pacing are thrown together seemingly at random. None of the actors are given anything to do except for react to famous art. If they spent as much time on characterizing these men as they did to the amount of silent staring, we would actually care for these guys. Also, Cate Blanchett as a French art informant was not believable.
The Monuments Men was held back from a December release and it was a good move. It would have been eaten alive in a month where at least two great films were released each weekend. February is a fitting place for this movie to make a few bucks and quickly die.
The real question here is, will your dad like it? It’s a World War II movie with an interesting background, so yes, it may be fine for a rental for him. At best, this movie will make you want to research the true story, which is far more interesting than what was put on screen. To everyone else, this movie is worth skipping. Go see The Lego Movie instead.