Movies

Snap to it, or block it? A parents' guide to 'The Lego Movie'

Feb. 7, 2014 at 5:57 AM ET

Every kid with a toy box, every parent who’s ever winced from landing a bare foot on a two-by-two red block, every grandparent who’s bought a minifig for a birthday knows that “The Lego Movie” opens Friday. But is it right for everyone? We snap together some of your likely questions. (Warning: Many spoilers ahead.)

The pros
Critical reviews have been almost universally positive, with Time magazine calling it "the funniest, cleverest, most exhaustingly exhilarating animated feature in ages." There's plenty of pop-culture references to keep the adults amused and the movie's world is nicely representative of your typical kid's Lego collection. Milhouse from "The Simpsons" mingles with Superman, Lady Liberty, "1980 something space guy," a mermaid, a panda and other Lego figs, and other household items such as Krazy Glue and used Band-Aids ("the cloak of Ban-Dai-Ed") play roles.

The cons
Emphasis on "exhaustive." It’s like it was written by a Lego-loving kid hopped up on Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs who was inspired by one of the “Batman” movies — the action is frenetic and hyper. All kids who play with Legos may want to see it, but it's not right for the younger tykes. And the 3-D is unnecessary.

Is it right for kids of all ages?
We're going to say no. While it’s rated PG for “mild action and rude humor,” there are a lot of hyperactive battle scenes, car chases and explosions. The Batmobile is shot until it blows up, as is Wonder Woman’s invisible jet (but that’s pretty funny, since … it’s invisible). And there are intense scenes — scary skeleton-faced robots attack, a characters’ parents are threatened, our heroes are strapped into chairs and “tortured” with green light flashes. A kid behind us wailed when a submarine exploded, another couldn't stop asking her parents about a character who was beheaded with a penny. Parents need to evaluate their own child's comfort level. Nine-year-olds will be in happy hyperfrenetic heaven, preschoolers should stick to "Frozen."

Do I need to pony up for 3-D?
Not really. Emmet and some of the other characters are flung into the audience due to various explosions, and red Lego blocks often rain out at the audience. But the third dimension doesn't suck the audience onscreen into its crazy cartoonish world. If you've got the money and want to get the full "Lego Movie" experience, the 3-D isn't a bad addition. But if your local theater's only showing it in 2-D or you want to save a few bucks, don't let your kids guilt you into feeling bad about it.

How are the voices?
Very well-cast. Chris Pratt's enthusiastic voice as unlikely hero Emmet is in almost every minute of the movie, and he's likable and funny. Kudos also to Morgan Freeman in a perfect Morgan Freeman role as the wizard Vitruvius and Will Arnett as a growly, frattish Batman. You'll have fun recognizing the other voices too, especially Jonah Hill, whose Green Lantern could've used a much bigger role, Elizabeth Banks as a fighter not unlike Trinity from "The Matrix," and Will Ferrell as the nasty villain.

Best lines
“His face is so generic, it matches every other face in our database.”
“We need more ideas so dumb and bad no one will ever think they could possibly be useful.”
“I told the weird cat thing to stall.”
“You don’t know me, but I’m on TV, so you can trust me.”

Warning
The movie's big song, "Everything is Awesome!" is as cursedly addictive as "It's a Small World."

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