By Roger Moore
If the Looney Toons team had played with plastic blocks that snap together, “The Lego Movie” is the kind of surreal subversion they might have made.
The story — if you can call it that — is a riff on “Tron,” an alternate world whose denizens lead an assault on conformity. The characters, ranging from a blind wizard (Morgan Freeman) and “master builder” ninja (Elizabeth Banks) to Batman (a growling Will Arnett), an evil overlord named President Business (Will Ferrell) and his Bad Cop henchman (Liam Neeson), make the case that it’s those who can improvise, invent and see the world differently who are “the special.”
Mild-mannered Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just another yellow-faced Lego construction worker who is a model citizen in a planned society. And then he stumbles onto an object of prophecy, “the piece of resistance.” That must mean he’s the chosen one, “the special.” So Wyldstyle (Banks) tries to help him get that “piece” to where it can stop President Business from destroying the many Lego universes.
Slapstick violence befalls the clueless Emmet and those who help him, “master builders” honored for their crazy-quilt Lego designs, making cars, motorcycles, stagecoaches and spaceships on the fly to aid in their escape.
And out to stop them at every turn is the furious and sadistic Good Cop/Bad Cop, a two-faced police Lego, both of whom are voiced by Neeson.
The animation is a plastic-coated blur at times. Many of the jokes will fly over the heads of the intended audience. But from its slapstick physics to its theology, “The Lego Movie” amuses and never fails to leave viewers a little dazzled at the demented audacity of it all.