Reviewed: The Lego Movie (2014)

the-lego-movie-posterYou what?! – made a highly entertaining, imaginative, visually stunning and dare I say emotionally charged story with Lego? Did you also insert a subversive message about the evils of big business using the very tool you’re crying out against? Well done, folks – very well done.

Okay, that’s enough lip service. Now to figure out why it works so well. At first glance it seems like a pretty standard hero’s journey with Emmet (Chris Pratt) being our hero who doesn’t know his full potential. Crossing paths with Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) draws him into a world of adventure that he could never dream of as it is revealed to him that he may be more important to everything than he ever could have imagined.

The evil he’s fighting against is Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who only really wants to keep order in his domain and that’s not such a bad thing for everyone if you don’t have a problem with being a drone and playing ball with the system in place.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the masterminds behind this one. Their previous efforts helped make Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs the success that it was and they bring the magic to this too.

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It’s a really pretty movie. The choice to make it CG but make it look stop-motion was perfect. Building the universe almost completely out of existing Lego pieces is another stroke of genius. Up close everything looks so tactile and the wide-shots and backgrounds are simply breathtaking. As Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs does, this film taps into childlike ideas and presents them as exactly that – giving it an earnestness that one can’t help but get swept along with.

The voice cast is perfect with Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks leading the charge against Will Ferrell, and support from a range of others such as Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and a most memorable Will Arnett as Batman.

Like many others about my age, I dare say that Charlie Day’s Bennie will leave quite an impression with his note-perfect older generation character brought to life in a most amusing way.

Hell, this is all coming off as one big love letter. I’m trying to be subjective but it’s not going as planned. Basically, if growing up you ever had an obsession with Lego, this movie is for you. If you like good stories, this movie is for you. If you want get in touch with your inner child for 90 or so minutes, this film is for you. Get on it.

Reviewed: Land Of The Lost (2009)

land-of-the-lost_posterChances are you didn’t run out and see this adventure film starring Will FerrellAnna Friel and Danny McBride when it hit the big screen in 2009. And to that I’d say, ‘fair enough.’ What I do recommend however is checking it out now that it’s had time to settle and let everyone forget how much it cost to make.

Land of the Lost was an effects-driven kids TV show from the 70’s that I never saw. Apparently the guys who made it got jealous of other TV shows that had been made into big budget films (Charlies AngelsLost in Space) and wanted a slice of the pie too*.

Will Ferrell plays Dr. Rick Marshall, a disgraced scientist whose fire for his research gets rekindled when Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) walks in and shows him something impossible that’s related to his work. They head out to test his invention in the middle of nowhere that also happens to be a 3rd rate family attraction run by a redneck named Will Stanton (Danny McBride). One thing leads to another and they find themselves travelling to an alternate dimension peopled by lizard men, primates and dinosaurs. There are also three moons and a bunch of other whack shit that doesn’t make sense. In this world they meet Chaka (Jorma Taccone), a primate who helps them on their quest to get back home.13255626_In terms of great films this is not one of them, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It looks great (directed by Brad Silberling – the guy behind the adaptations of Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events and Casper – among other things), this guy knows how to bring stylised worlds to the screen. The script is helmed by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas (SNL alumni) who know how to piece together an entertaining script but also leave enough room for Ferrell and McBride to improvise which is where they both really shine. Anna Friel does very well to counter their lunacy with her ‘straight guy’ approach.

So if you want to see something that’s big, fun and a little bit like a bad acid trip with Will Ferrell riding a dinosaur, this is the movie for you.

*I can not verify this statement with facts as I may have made it up.

Reviewed: Step Brothers (2008)

step brothersIf you have not seen this movie yet, drop everything immediately, head to your local video store/Netflix/place what they get movies from, grab a copy and watch it ASAP!

Re-watching this reminded me that Step Brothers is one of those gems of pure fun with a threadbare story that obviously serves as just a vehicle to get from one sketch to the next for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly to play in and it’s awesome! This is the second time we get to follow this pair under the direction of Adam McKay (the first instance being Talladega Nights) who really lets them do whatever they want to make us laugh.

The story follows Dale (Reilly) and Brennan (Ferrell), two thirty-something-year-old men who still live at home with their single father Robert (Richard Jenkins) and mother Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) respectively. The parents meet and it’s love at first sight; they get married and decide to move in together much to Dale and Brennan’s dismay.

At first, Dale and Brennan don’t get on but soon realise that they are so alike that they can’t help but be best friends. Happy that they’re connecting, Nancy and Robert think home life will be better but the fact that they’ve got two grown men under one roof behaving like children takes a toll on their relationship. They try to instil a little responsibility in the boys’ lives by getting them jobs but they’re not up to the challenge. The stress becomes unbearable and they break up.

Dale and Brennan are devastated and each blames the other for their parents’ falling out. They essentially break up as well.

Months down the track the boys have finally learned some responsibility and know how to get by on their own in the real world when a chance comes up for them to make amends and get their parents back together.

Reilly and Ferrell are the reason most people will watch this movie but the supporting cast put in just as much effort (special note goes to Steenburgen and Jenkins) with a hilarious performance by Adam Scott as Dale’s dickish brother Derek that is also worth mentioning.

Look, just watch the movie. It’s consistently funny and won’t let you down.

Reviewed: Casa De Mi Padre (2012)

casa-de-mi-padre_posterHere’s a movie with Will Ferrell and it’s in Spanish – that’s the primary joke for this entire film. I knew this so I gave it a shot like everyone else will or won’t based on the same information.

Casa De Mi Padre (translates to “House Of My Father”) is an homage to Mexican cinema of yesteryear much like what Black Dynamite is to blaxploitation. Played mostly straight, much of the comedy comes from technical “errors” such as continuity, bad sets and nonsensical cuts.

I can imagine that when the idea was first brought to the table, everyone fell about the place laughing and I would have too. The idea sounds great in the form of a pitch but to turn this one note gag into a feature-length film, it wears a bit thin after fifteen minutes and the story we’re left with to get us over the finish line is left wanting for something. Well, anything really.

The story is about two brothers, one an entrepreneurial young guy on his way to making money for the family and being the good son everyone knows him to be, the other (Will Ferrell) a simpleton with no ambition or expectation from anyone for anything more than just taking up space. The plot thickens when we find out that the good son isn’t so good and his fiancée starts falling for his simpleton brother. There’s also something about a drug lord played by Gael García Bernal.

Tarantino’s Death Proof is another film that pays homage to the imperfections of the style of cinema it references with editing effects that emulate missing film reels, low grade overused film and missing dialogue. Death Proof plays to these gags in the first twenty or so minutes but after that drops these gimmicks (because we get the joke and there’s no need to labour it) and focuses on characters and story, allowing us to sit back and enjoy the film as it plays out.

Casa De Mi Padre does not. I know they’re very different movies but my argument still stands. You’re going to want to be quite drunk in the attempt to enjoy this one. I know I was but honestly, it didn’t help.