Review: ‘The Lego Movie’ builds on emotions

As a parent, it’s easy to be cynical about a film based on a toy. Will you be bombarded with a 90-minute infomercial that by the end of the sell will cost you more than the price of the movie ticket?

Fortunately, The Lego Movie has enough wit and wisdom to send a recession-age message to families on the importance of thinking through problems with creativity.

The film begins with a dastardly villain, Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who has stolen the mystical “Kragle” from sage Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). In the battle to protect the artifact, Vitruvius loses his sight but doesn’t go down lightly. He curses Lord Business with a prophecy of a master builder who will find the “piece of resistance” and save the world from the evils of the “Kragle.”

Years later, we meet loner Emmet (Chris Pratt), a nondescript Lego construction guy who needs to follow step-by-step instructions just to get through his day: “Always return a compliment. Always root for the local sports team ”

The government of Emmet’s hometown of Bricksburg is run by President Business, aka Lord Business channeling a Donald Trump ’do. Business has the whole town of Bricksburg under his control and distracts them with a catchy pop tune titled Everything Is Awesome, high-priced lattes and a reality TV show called Where’s My Pants?

Emmet stumbles upon the famed “piece of resistance” while literally falling for hip chick WyldStyle (Elizabeth Banks), a ninja-like master builder who had been searching for the piece. She mistakenly thinks Emmet is “The Special” — the one chosen to save the world.

Meanwhile, Business is planning a total takeover of the townsfolk by unleashing the Kragle, a wadded up Krazy Glue, to stick everyone in place. He tests this out on his maniacal henchman Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) by forcing the Bad Cop to squirt his own parents into a sticky state of being. (He’s really Bad.)

Simple-minded Emmet, with the help of a hodgepodge of master builders, from Batman (Will Arnett) to a 1980s astronaut guy, set off to rid the world of Kragle.

The vivid computer animation mimics the look and feel of the beloved Lego blocks. During Emmet’s quest we wander through some familiar playsets — the Wild West, the Pirate Ship, the original Space Ship set. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ( Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), who also wrote the screenplay, do a remarkable job of creating worlds and a storyline that could easily come from the imaginations of youngsters. Metalbeard the Pirate, for example, is an amalgamation of all the leftover toys pieced together.

In the end, there’s an unexpected heart-tugging moment with a surprisingly subtle performance by Ferrell that glues the whole film together.

In a time when business-as-usual means downsizing, it’s comforting to know that creativity and imagination can still save the day.