One of the best-reviewed movies of the last 12 months is an epic story about ... LEGO people? Believe it or not, The LEGO Movie is getting virtually unanimous critical praise—as of this writing it's at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, with just one Top Critic offering a negative review. Here's what critics are saying about their improbable darling:
- "My fingers rebel, but type it I must: The LEGO Movie is the first great cinematic experience of 2014," writes Ty Burr at the Boston Globe. "The keys to the movie's absurdly high enjoyment factor are its exuberance, timing, wit, and willingness to stoop to its source"—unlike, say, Transformers or Battleship, this is "rooted in the wonky hobbyist esthetic of the LEGO system itself."
- "I’m going to level with you: I went in hoping at best for something intermittently amusing," admits Dana Stevens at Slate. Instead she got a symphony of "precisely orchestrated silliness," that's at times even kind of subversive and profound. Thanks in part to a "perception-shifting" third-act twist, the movie "really sets itself apart, not just from most branded entertainment, but from most films for children, period."
- "It may be a helter-skelter kiddie adventure built out of plastic toy components," writes Owen Gleiberman at EW, but it's also "conceptually audacious," "visually astonishing," and "startlingly sophisticated." Like Toy Story before it, the movie "invents a kind of child-friendly meta universe" in which "the transparently fake Lego constructions embody the pure spirit of make-believe."
- Andrew O'Hehir at Salon also took "wonder and delight" in the movie, which "could easily have been test-marketed, corporate-processed crap." But he can't help over-analyzing the fact that this fable about rejecting the stifling strictures of "Lord Business" was corporate-processed. In that light, "the movie’s critique of conformity becomes its opposite, a benevolent reassurance that the dominant order can tolerate a bit of disorder at the micro-LEGO level."
- Who's the lone grump? Kyle Smith at the New York Post. Like O'Hehir, he sees some hypocrisy: "Here is a movie in which a $15 billion toy merchant and a $57 billion entertainment conglomerate join forces to lecture us on the evils of buying." But really, he just can't take the movie's "toddler-meets-Red-Bull chaos. The experience is like being trapped inside a popcorn popper."