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As excited as you may be for The LEGO Movie, as good as you may hope it to be, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually better. A for-certain future classic of a film, I cannot recall when last I had this much fun in a cinema where copious amounts of alcohol wasn’t involved. The only chink in the blocky, plastic armour of this superlative effort from writing/directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) is that the 3D is pretty much non-existent; not detracting in any way but not really enhancing anything either.

As for the rest of it? Well, as the aural-cocaine theme song sung throughout the movie attests: everything is awesome!

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This is a film that works on every conceivable level, where there is something to leave everybody, irrespective of age, grinning so wide you would be in danger of hemispherically bisecting your own face. Also, crying.

That’s right, a movie about plastic blocks containing rapid fire, laugh-a-minute gags might just leave you bawling as it’s misleadingly simplistic narrative perfectly segues between comic hilarity and heart-string tugging emotion. Older cinemagoers will be left pondering themes like commercialism, overcoming destiny, loss of childlike wonder and father/son relationships, while the youngsters will be cracking each other up with their Batman impersonations.

Yes, Batman. Because The LEGO Movie borrows the limitlessly imaginative and creatively slapdash approach of a child playing with the Danish toy blocks and throws everybody (from Superman to Abraham Lincoln) and everything at its story with surprising success.

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Said story being the tale of Emmet (the increasingly charming Chris Pratt), just an ordinary construction worker in the LEGO land of Bricksburg. So ordinary in fact, that people barely even know he exists. Emmet, like everybody else in Bricksburg, spends every day just following instructions (cleverly, the same instructions you would normally find in LEGO packs), drinking the same overpriced coffee, listening to the same song (“Everything is awesome!” – good luck getting this one out of your head), watching the same TV show and making sure to destroy anything weird and out of the ordinary. All of this – especially the latter – on the commands of their leader, President Business (a perfectly cast Will Ferrell), a publicly loved but secretly evil, funny hat wearing control freak with a fiendish plan to destroy the world.

But when Emmet literally stumbles his way into a prophecy declaring him to be The Special – the most important person in the whole universe – he soon finds his very ordinary life uprooted, as he goes on a worlds-spanning adventure with the funky Wildstyle (an ever witty Elizabeth Banks), her boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett at his growlingly funniest), the blind sage Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman in full on God Morgan Freeman mode) and a host of other hilarious characters.

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The expansive voice cast as a whole all turn in top notch performances – especially Liam Neeson as President Business’ main muscle, the dual-personality, chair kicking (you’ll see) Good Cop/Bad Cop – bringing to life these blocky characters.

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Well not 100% to life, as the film’s creators have gone and done something really, really clever. Firstly, everything in this movie is made out of LEGO blocks, right down to bullets from a gun, jet engine flames and water from the sea. Everything. That alone already makes for an out of the ordinary visual flavour, but then instead of just animating everything to look and be as life-like as possible, the digital wizards over at WB have added a stilted jitter to everything, lending it an almost stop-motion feel, as if these were real, physical LEGO pieces being moved around frame by frame. The result is an uniquely constructed digital world unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the big screen, especially in the film’s marvelously choreographed action set pieces where explosions send individual blocks shooting off in all directions (probably to land under the foot of some unlucky parent).

Couple this creatively flawless technical wizardry with the film’s insta-charm cast of characters, razor sharp gags and pop culture in-jokes that come through so fast and frequently that you may still be busy laughing too hard at one to catch the next, an unexpectedly mature emotional and thematic heft and an overall tone that is just so infectious in its levity that outside of some chemical intervention, you’ll be hard pressed to get the smile off your face, and you have an animated family film that is about as good as the genre can get.

The real LEGO toy blocks, as so many kids (and ex-kids like myself) across the world for the last 6 decades can testify, is all about boundless imagination and the natural child-like genius of creation, and that’s exactly what The LEGO Movie emphatically personifies. It’s also the best film I’ve seen thus far in 2014.

Last Updated: March 10, 2014

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Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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