'The Lego Movie': What the Critics Are Saying

Already set for a sequel, the toy-based film brags a voice cast led by Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman.

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures' 3D-animated feature The Lego Movie hopes to entertain audiences of all ages, beginning Friday. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street), the film features a voice cast led by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell and Will Arnett.

STORY: Inside the 'Lego Movie' Premiere With Chris Pratt and Will Arnett

Already set for a sequel, the family film follows an ordinary minifigure named Emmet who is mistaken for the hero who can save the Lego universe. With the aid of Batman, Uni-Kitty and Benny, among other characters, he must learn to defeat the tyrant Lord Business.

The Lego Movie is on track to become the company's second-biggest animated title behind Toy Story 3 in terms of advance ticket sales, according to Fandango, and could open in the $45 million to $50 million range

Read a sampling of what top critics are saying below:

The Hollywood Reporter's film critic Michael Rechtshaffen called the film "a non-stop blast from beginning to end, jam-packed with a wacky irreverence, dazzling state-of-the-art CGI (courtesy of Animal Logic) and a pitch-perfect voice cast" in his review. Also praising the third-act reveal, most noteworthy is the animation effort: "Arriving at a time when feature animation was looking and feeling mighty anemic — essentially reconnecting the same dots until the next big thing comes along — The Lego Movie shows ’em how it’s done."

Los Angeles Times' Betsey Sharkey reassured that "if you're wondering if the film plays like a 90-plus-minute commercial, strangely it does not. There is a very familiar feel to the film, which remains true to the style of those ubiquitous bits and pieces that are EVERYWHERE. At the same time, The Lego Movie is strikingly, exhilaratingly, exhaustingly fresh."

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The Boston Globe's Ty Burr wrote, "My fingers rebel, but type it I must: The Lego Movie is the first great cinematic experience of 2014," and was particularly fond of the script's wit and cameos from the toy company's many licensed character sets. Visually, he considered The Lego Movie "insane and generous, and occasionally the film backs into a startlingly pure beauty, such as an ocean sequence made of endless, undulating blue cubes. 

Time's Richard Corliss simultaneously hailed the film as "the funniest, cleverest, most exhaustingly exhilarating animated feature in ages" and a "feature-length informercial" for LEGO. It has an agenda for audiences: "Be creative with your toys. It also urges kids to venture out of the virtual world they live in and use their hands for something other than typing. But if the Lego Movie workers have seized the means of production, it’s only to increase production — to sell more toys, and tickets for a film whose official title is The Lego Movie."

The New York Times' A.O. Scott pushed aside The Lego Movie's visual ambitions and wide-pleasing pop-culture jokes -- "Parents will dab their eyes while the kids roll theirs" -- to also point out that the film is "an allegory about the nature of creativity and the meaning of amusement. As such, it encounters an obvious contradiction, one that bothered the 10-year-old Lego maven who accompanied me to the press screening. The overt message is that you should throw out the manuals and follow the lead of your own ingenuity, improvising new combinations for the building blocks in front of you. But the movie itself follows a fairly strict and careful formula, thwarting its inventive potential in favor of the expected and familiar."

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee