The Lego Movie is a 2014 American computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmett (Chris Pratt) prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the help of master builders Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks).
The movie received critical acclaim, with many critics highlighting its visual style and humor. The movie garnered over $248 million domestically and over $152 million internationally, adding up to a worldwide total of over $400 million. A sequel is scheduled to be released on May 26, 2017.
The wizard Vitruvius attempts to protect the "Kragle", a superweapon, from the evil Lord Business. He fails to do so, and is blinded, but warns Business of a prophecy where a person called the "Special" will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle. Eight and a half years later, Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary construction worker, comes across a woman named Wyldstyle, who is searching for something after hours at Emmet's construction site. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens in the custody of Bad Cop, Business' lieutenant with a split "Good Cop" personality, with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back. There, Emmet learns of Business' plans to freeze the world with the Kragle (a tube of Krazy Glue with the label partially rubbed out). Wyldstyle rescues Emmet and takes him to Vitruvius, explaining that she and the wizard are "Master Builders" capable of building anything they need, both with great speed and without instruction manuals; when Business rose to power, his disapproval of such anarchic creativity resulted in him capturing many of them. As the "Special", Emmet is destined to defeat him, yet Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are disappointed to find Emmet displays no creativity.
Bad Cop tracks down Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius. They are rescued by Wyldstyle's boyfriend Batman who takes them to a meeting of the remaining Master Builders in Cloud Cuckoo Land. They are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop and his forces attack and capture all the Master Builders except for Emmet and a few others. Emmet believes the Master Builders' weakness is that their individual creativity prevents them from working together. He devises a team plan to infiltrate Business' headquarters, but he and his allies are captured and imprisoned. Vitruvius attempts to fight back but is decapitated by Lord Business. With his dying words, he reveals he made up the prophecy. Business throws the Piece of Resistance off the edge of the universe, sets his headquarters to self-destruct, and leaves the Master Builders and Bad Cop to die. Vitruvius' ghost appears before Emmet and explains it was not the prophecy, but his self-belief that made him the Special. Tied to the self-destruct mechanism's battery, Emmet flings himself off the edge of the universe to save his friends, who escape further danger with the aid of Bad Cop. Inspired by Emmet's sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight Business' forces, with the Master Builders leading the charge.
Emmet finds himself in the real world, where the events of the story are being played out within the imagination of a boy, Finn, on his father's Lego set. The father, known by Emmet as "The Man Upstairs" from his visions, chastises his son for ruining the set by creating hodgepodges of different characters and playsets, and proceeds to permanently glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and falls off the table, gaining Finn's attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the Lego set, where Emmet builds a massive robot mech to assist his friends before confronting Business. In the real world, Finn's father looks at his son's creations again and is impressed. Realizing his son based the evil Lord Business on him, the father has a change of heart and allows his son to play with his Lego however he sees fit. In the Lego world, Emmet convinces Business that he, too, is special, as is everyone. Moved by Emmet's speech, Business destroys the Kragle with the Piece of Resistance (actually the cap for the tube of Krazy Glue) and unfreezes his victims with a watering can. With the world saved, Emmet celebrates with his friends, and Wyldstyle, whose real name is Lucy, becomes his girlfriend. However, alien Duplo beings soon beam down, announcing their intentions to invade due to the father allowing Finn's little sister to play with his Lego set as well.
- Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary construction worker minifigure who is mistaken for the "Special."
- Will Ferrell as Lord Business, an evil businessman who is the company president of the Octan Corporation under the name President Business and the tyrant of Bricksburg. Ferrell also plays "The Man Upstairs", a Lego collector in the live-action part of the film.
- Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle/Lucy, a "tough as nails" and tech-savvy female fighter who is one of the Master Builders.
- Will Arnett as Batman, a DC Comics superhero, Master Builder, and Wyldstyle's boyfriend.
- Nick Offerman as Metal Beard, a pirate and Master Builder seeking revenge on Lord Business for taking his body parts in an earlier encounter.
- Alison Brie as Princess Unikitty, a unicorn kitten hybrid and Master Builder that lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
- Charlie Day as Benny, a "1980-something space guy" who is one of the Master Builders.
- Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop, a police officer with a split personality who is a member of the Super Secret Police. Neeson also voices Pa Cop, Bad Cop/Good Cop's father.
- Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, an old wizard who is one of the Master Builders.
- Channing Tatum as Superman, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders.
- Jonah Hill as Green Lantern, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders.
- Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders.
- Jadon Sand as Finn, an eight-and-a-half-year-old boy who is the son of "The Man Upstairs" in the live-action part of the film.
- Melissa Sturm as Ma Cop, Bad Cop/Good Cop's mother. Sturm also voices Gail, a female construction worker.
In addition, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams reprise their Star Wars roles as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian respectively, with Keith Ferguson voicing Han Solo (who he previously voiced in Robot Chicken and Mad). Shaquille O'Neal portrays a Lego version of himself who is a Master Builder alongside 2 generic members of 2002 NBA All-Stars. The cast is rounded out by Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln (a Master Builder), Dave Franco as Wally (a construction worker), Todd Hansen as Gandalf (a Master Builder who Vitruvius mistook for Albus Dumbledore), Jake Johnson as Barry (a construction worker), Keegan-Michael Key as Foreman Jim (a construction foreman who is Emmet's boss), Kelly Lafferty as Velma Staplebot (Lord Business' assistant), and Jorma Taccone as William Shakespeare (a Master Builder). Co-director Chris Miller cameos as a TV Presenter in the studio that films the "Where Are My Pants" TV show.
- "We wanted to make the film feel like the way you play, the way I remember playing. We wanted to make it feel as epic and ambitious and self-serious as a kid feels when they play with LEGO. We took something you could claim is the most cynical cash grab in cinematic history, basically a 90 minute LEGO commercial, and turned it into a celebration of creativity, fun and invention, in the spirit of just having a good time and how ridiculous it can look when you make things up. And we had fun doing it."
- ―Animation supervisor Chris McKay
The film had been in development at Warner Bros. since 2008. By August 2009, Dan and Kevin Hageman were writing the script described as "action adventure set in a Lego world." Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in talks in June 2010 to write and direct the film. Warner Bros. green-lit the film by November 2011, with a planned 2014 release date. The Australian studio Animal Logic was contracted to provide the animation, which was expected to comprise 80% of the film. By this time Chris McKay, the director of Robot Chicken, had also joined Lord and Miller to co-direct. McKay explained that his role was to supervise the production in Australia once Lord and Miller left to work on 22 Jump Street. In March 2012, Lord and Miller revealed the film's working title, Lego: The Piece of Resistance, and a storyline. In April 2012, Warner Bros. scheduled the film for release on February 28, 2014, a date that subsequently changed.
By June 2012, Chris Pratt had been cast as the voice of Emmet, the lead Lego character, and Will Arnett voicing Lego Batman; the role of Lego Superman was offered to Channing Tatum. By August 2012, Elizabeth Banks was hired to voice Lucy (later getting the nickname Wyldstyle) and Morgan Freeman to voice Vitruvius, an old mystic. In October 2012, Warner Bros. shifted the release date for the film, simply titled Lego, to February 7, 2014. In November 2012, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, and Nick Offerman signed on for roles. Brie voices Unikitty, a member of Emmet's team; Ferrell voices the antagonist President/Lord Business; Neeson voices Bad Cop; and Offerman voices Metal Beard, a pirate seeking revenge on Business.
In July 2012, a Lego-user contest announced on the film's Facebook page would choose a winning Lego vehicle to appear in the film. Miller's childhood Space Village playset is utilised in the film.
Animal Logic tried to make the film's animation replicate a stop motion film even if everything was done through computer graphics, with the animation rigs following the same articulation limits actual Lego figures have. The camera systems also tried to replicate live action cinematography, including different lenses and a Steadicam simulator. The scenery was projected through The Lego Group's own Lego Digital Designer, which as CG supervisor Aidan Sarsfield detailed, "uses the official LEGO Brick Library and effectively simulates the connectivity of each of the bricks.” The saved files were then converted to design and animate in Maya and XSI. At times the minifigures were even placed under microscopes to capture the seam lines, dirt and grime into the digital textures.
The film was dedicated to Kathleen Fleming, former head of production at the Lego company, who died in April 2013 in an accident in Mexico.
The Lego Movie received many forms of marketing from both Warner Bros. and The Lego Group. Seventeen building play sets inspired by scenes from the film were released, including a set of Collectible Minifigures. A website was opened up so fans could make minifigure versions of themselves, and later, put that in the film's official trailer. The company has recruited a roster of global partners to a broad, multi-category licensing program to support the film.
Official Lego Brand Stores also scheduled events. Each week of January 2014, a new character poster (Wyldstyle, Batman, Emmet, Lord Business) came with every purchase. By building a creative model in-store, people received a free accessory pack. Barnes & Noble will host a themed event in January, February, and March. On February 7, 2014, McDonald's released eight collectible holographic/3D cups in Happy Meals to promote the film.
A video game based on the film, The Lego Movie Videogame, by TT Games for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and Windows, was released on February 4, 2014. An exclusive "Wild West Emmet" minifigure was released with preorders of the game at GameStop.
The first theatrical trailer was released on June 18, 2013. The second was released on October 31, 2013, preceded by a series of teasers featuring main characters. The Lego Movie premiered at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2014, and was released in theaters on February 7, 2014.
The Los Angeles Times said The Lego Movie has received "nearly unanimous positive reviews". The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 96% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10 based on 169 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 82 (indicating "universal acclaim") based on 41 reviews. According to CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, the average grade cinemagoers gave The Lego Movie was A on an A+ to F scale.
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Arriving at a time when feature animation was looking and feeling mighty anemic...The LEGO Movie shows 'em how it's done," with Peter Debruge of Variety adding that Lord and Miller "irreverently deconstruct the state of the modern blockbuster and deliver a smarter, more satisfying experience in its place, emerging with a fresh franchise for others to build upon." Tom Huddleston of Time Out said, "The script is witty, the satire surprisingly pointed, and the animation tactile and imaginative." Drew Hunt of the Chicago Reader said the filmmakers "fill the script with delightfully absurd one-liners and sharp pop culture references", with A. O. Scott of The New York Times noting that, "Pop-culture jokes ricochet off the heads of younger viewers to tickle the world-weary adults in the audience, with just enough sentimental goo applied at the end to unite the generations. Parents will dab their eyes while the kids roll theirs."
Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine gave the film an A-grade and stated, "The LEGO Movie is something of a miracle amongst animated movies: brightly colored, a feast for the eyes, one that bravely establishes its own world, one where voice actors that aren’t used as marketing gimmicks, and an adaptation that does perfect justice to its toy-counterpart." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News said the filmmakers "don't sink into cynicism. Their computer animation embraces the retro look and feel of the toys to both ingenious and adorable effect." Claudia Puig of USA Today called the film "a spirited romp through a world that looks distinctively familiar, and yet freshly inventive."Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail asked, "Can a feature-length toy commercial also work as a decent kids’ movie? The bombast of the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises might suggest no, but after an uninspired year for animated movies, The Lego Movie is a 3-D animated film that connects." Joel Arnold of NPR acknowledged that the film "may be one giant advertisement, but all the way to its plastic-mat foundation, it's an earnest piece of work—a cash grab with a heart." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film "sassy enough to shoot well-aimed darts at corporate branding." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post said that, "While clearly filled with affection for—and marketing tie-ins to—the titular product that's front and center, it's also something of a sharp plastic brick flung in the eye of its corporate sponsor."
On the negative side, Kyle Smith of the New York Post called the film "more exhausting than fun, too unsure of itself to stick with any story thread for too long." Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times, while generally positive, found "it falls apart a bit near the end." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap said the film "will doubtless tickle young fans of the toys. It's just too bad that a movie that encourages you to think for yourself doesn't follow its own advice."
As of March 31, 2014, The Lego Movie has grossed $248,216,780 in North America, and $152,200,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $400,416,780. In North America, the film opened at number one in its first weekend, with $69,050,279, which is the second highest weekend debut in February behind The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million). The movie retained the top spot at box office in its second weekend by declining only 28% and grossing $49,846,430. The Lego Movie was number one again in its third weekend while declining 37% and grossing $31,305,359. In its fourth weekend, the film dropped to number three grossing $20,828,356.
On February 3, 2014, Jared Stern was hired to write a sequel, along with Michelle Morgan. On February 21, 2014, it was announced that the sequel will be released on May 26, 2017. On March 12, 2014, Deadline reported that Chris McKay will direct the sequel with Lord and Miller as producers.