(Phil Lord, Chris Miller, 2014)
The Lego Movie is the most satisfying kids film since the period a few years ago when Pixar was still reliably great. It manages to be hilarious, bitingly satirical, exciting, thought-provoking, epic and consistently visually inventive throughout. Considering it's based on the brick construction system toys, that is an impressive feat.
Writer-directors Lord and Miller see the potential in the property to craft an ambitious, energetically tangential story which is full of references to other movies, in-jokes, post-modern gags and lots of nods to the adults in the audience.
At heart, its a remake of the Matrix, with its "chosen one" story focused on Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), a construction worker who is happy to conform, and ardent in his desire to be just like everyone else. He follows the "instructions", a book informing residents exactly how to live (buy overpriced coffee, listen to popular music - "Everything Is Awesome" is a horrific earworm after a single viewing of this film). These brief scenes are a dazzlingly paced, brilliantly funny satire on conformity and consumerism, and they quickly give way to a brilliant action scene after Emmet stumbles across a mysterious artefact which bonds to his body, is questioned and one the verge of execution at the hands of Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) before he is rescued by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a "master builder" who can create lego vehicles in seconds.
She explains the plot to him (in a scene which typically, cheerfully thumbs its nose at the very idea of such expository scenes): President Business (Will Ferrell) is set on destroying the Universe with his ultimate weapon, the Kangle (a tube of glue) which can only be stopped with the artefact stuck to Emmet's back. With Bad Cop on their trail, Emmet, Wyldstyle and her boyfirend Batman (hilariously characterised as a bit of a jockish dick, in love with his own dark and mysterious image and beautifully voiced by Will Arnett) jump across zones in this odd Lego Universe, from the Old West to "Middle Zealand" to Cloud Cuckoo Land, meeting a collection of recognisable pop culture characters and lego figures along the way.
From there it only gets more ambitious and epic, until a final act revelation which recontextualises and deepens everything we have seen suggests that this is actually that rarest thing; a transcendent kids film.
Besides that it is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, fantastically exciting, and truly beautiful in its inventive use of the possibilities of the lego-verse.