The Best Films of the Decade: #40. The LEGO Movie (2014)

| December 2, 2019
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BFOTD-Banner.jpg

In just 29 days, the decade will come to a close and so for movie lovers like me it is an opportunity to look over the decade of movies that are left behind. Over the next few weeks I am going to count down the best films of the past 10 years from #40 to #1. My choices are personal choices swayed by nothing but the love I have for this medium. These are all great movies. These films all achieved something great. All reached for something special. They are the best of the decade . . .

Two-thousand Nineteen marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of The Disney Renaissance, a revolutionary turn for animated features that pulled the form out of the sub-marginal doldrums that existed in the 70s and 80s and brought them to a state of high art.  The renaissance wouldn’t last long, nor would it entirely inspire the kind of output that we might have hoped, but the spirit of what it wrought was both a commercial and artistic enthusiasm.  Very often the run-off from the Disney Renaissance yields forgettable herpisetic weekend box office torpor that is all color and no brain – I’m thinking of the likes of Angry Birds, Home and Space Chimps.  But sometimes, a studio gets one absolutely right.

The LEGO Movie makes my list of the decade’s best largely because it shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.  Think about it.  It’s a movie about LEGOs.  That idea alone sounds like a recipe for disaster.  But something wonderful happened here.  So much imagination went into this movie that you need multiple viewings to take it all in.  These are construction blocks that can be formed and reformed into literally billons of combinations and the filmmakers play with that.  It’s the best kind of animated movie – one that reaches the limits of what an animated movie can be.

Even more than that The LEGO Movies is a happy, exhilarating ball of fun.  It is a bright, colorful, quick-witted adventure that stretches the animated form as far as it can possibly go, spinning its characters into other dimensions and other realms.  In short, it does exactly what animation is supposed to do.  It plays around in a magical world but doesn’t simply ground itself in one simple-minded idea.  This is one of those rare homeruns that comes along every once in a great while.  It follows ground-breakers like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Toy Story in that the animators open the visual canvas to create something really special and distinct.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller don’t simply pay lip service to the LEGO toy, they have engineered a universe which is constantly evolving as the bricks are broken down and rebuilt into something else.  They create a beautiful, colorful world of imagination and reformation that is a tribute to the endangered spirit of make-believe.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
Filed in: Uncategorized