“The Lego Movie” Casting Review

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

The Lego Movie is a unique animated film that has been a long time in the making, but like a good bottle of wine, age has only made the final product all the better, and allows it to speak to audiences of all levels. Everyone can find something to love about this film. Families looking for a fun, expertly crafted story will find plenty to love here, while fans (both new and old) of the insanely popular toy franchise will especially enjoy seeing their favorite figurines and sets on the big screen, with funny cameos and references that only the oldest, most diehard Lego fans will get. 

Although the very idea of seeing a feature film made entirely out of Legos is reason enough to get people into the seats, The Lego Movie is backed up by an all star voice cast that really helps bring the action and story to life. The story itself follows an average Lego guy named “Emmet Brickowski” who loves following the status quo. He, and everyone else around him, are the seemingly perfect society–everyone obeys the rules, everyone does their job, and no one questions it. However, when Emmet stumbles upon a secret faction of rebels whose sole mission is to take down this monotonous way of life, Emmet must quickly learn what it takes to be original, and ultimately a hero.

Parks & Recreation actor Chris Pratt plays Emmet and brings all his charm, humor, and enthusiasm to the role. Besides for just being a talented actor, Pratt is a much needed reminder that A-list actors don’t get to that level overnight, and most, if not all, spend their entire lives working hard at their craft before gaining any kind of large scale recognition. Pratt, like most actors, did a lot of television and typical actor gigs in the early part of his career before landing the role of “Andy” in NBC’s aforementioned flagship series. From there, Pratt continued putting in the work and booked supporting roles in feature films like Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball, and Her before landing The Lego Movie and the leading role in Marvel’s highly anticipated film The Guardians of the Galaxy–the next superhero tentpole in the studio’s lineup. Needless to say, Pratt is a shining example that hard work really does pay off in this industry, and his voiceover work as the loveable Lego hero is just the tip of the iceberg.

Before I continue to PRATTle (get it?) it’s also important (and fun) to note the multitude of other voices in this film. Funny woman Elizabeth Banks lends her voice to the character “Wyldstyle”, a kickass rebel who meets Emmet and drags him into her world. Although Banks is no stranger to playing comedic / character-y roles, her turn as the action heroine is actually a nice change of pace for her. She plays this role more “normal” rather than a full on character, a la her portrayal of “Effie” in The Hunger Games franchise. Wyldstyle is accompanied by her boyfriend, “Batman” (yes, THE Batman), who is hilariously voiced by Will Arnett. Arnett’s Batman voice is a humorous jab at Christopher Nolan’s Batman (made famous by Christian Bale), and Arnett’s rendition has all the edge and personality the Dark Knight requires . . . in Lego form, that is.

Other humorous supporting characters include “Unikitty”, a, you guessed it, half-unicorn, half-kitten creature; and “Benny”, a vintage Lego astronaut with an obsession for building for spaceships. Unikitty is voiced by Community’s Alison Brie who gets bonus points for creating a voice that is completely character-y and overly-hyper. Charlie Day voices Benny, and lends his instantly recognizable persona to the role–Benny has all the manic mannerisms and behavior one would expect from Day in a role–live action or otherwise. On the villain side of the story, the two main antagonists here are “Lord Business”, the de facto president and overlord of the Lego world, and his number one enforcer, “Bad Cop/Good Cop”. Will Ferrell voices Lord Business and is everything you would expect from a Ferrell performance. He is also the only actor in the entire film to have an extra “special” role in the story, but I won’t spoil that for you right now. Liam Neeson voices Bad Cop/Good Cop, a character that has dual personalities, and its amusing hearing Neeson switch between his typical Liam Neeson voice, and a sweeter, childlike version of it. Of course you can’t have an epic voice cast without the one and only Morgan Freeman. Freeman voices “Vitruvius”, the patriarchal wizard and leader of the rebellion. Freeman’s voice is iconic and always has a sense of gravitas in it–which makes his performance here all the more amusing since his dialogue is generally lighthearted and goofy–especially when he tries acting like a ghost.

One could easily write on and on about the extensive number of voices in The Lego Movie, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just highlight some other notable voices here. Channing Tatum voices a cocky “Superman”, while Jonah Hill plays “Green Lantern”. The comedic duo’s characters are readily paired up in the film and seeing Green Lantern chase Superman like a fanboy is priceless. Ironically, Cobie Smulders (whose star is rising due to her recent portrayal as “Agent Hill” in the Marvel universe) voices the heroine “Wonder Woman”, which is her own little way of dabbling in the DC Universe while avoiding upsetting the folks over at Marvel. Lego pirate “Metal Beard” is voiced by fellow Parks & Recreation star Nick Offerman, who is almost unrecognizable since he typically always plays his roles straight. Other fun voice cameos include in Will Forte playing “Abraham Lincoln”; Shaquille O’Neill playing Lego Shaq; and legendary Star Wars characters ‘C-3PO’ and ‘Lando’ being voiced by their original actors – Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams.

Very few movies could do what The Lego Movie has done. Besides for being a smartly crafted animated film, the movie has also been able to capitalize on Lego’s wildly expansive licenses – what other film can have characters from both the Star Wars and DC Universe on the same screen?? With awards season in the rear view mirror, it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of great films in the theatres, with more coming as we coast into summer blockbuster season. The Lego Movie may not have been nominated for an Oscar (at least not yet), but it possesses an all-star cast and story that readily deserves merit and recognition.

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Kyle