We LOVE a cracking animation. We’ve watched Up more times than permissible for a grown adult and it never fails to make us laugh (talking dogs flying planes!!). So we approached The Lego Movie with nervous anticipation. Would it deliver that vital adult / kiddie crossover appeal?
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker. He’s earnest, dull and always follows the instructions. Which is handy because Emmet lives in a Lego universe presided over by Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a megalomaniac despot determined to replace all creativity with rigid conformity, aided by his bi-polar henchman Good Cop / Bad Cop (a marvellous Liam Neeson). Literally rigid, as Lord Business intends to smother the Lego world in glue, never to be broken apart and rebuilt again.
Working to thwart this dastardly deed are an underground resistance movement of Master Builders, free-thinking liberals who NEVER follow the instructions, throwing together random Lego parts to create motorcycles, spaceships, bridges, the crazy fools. Headed by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and assisted by action heroine Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), they include every pop culture icon you can think of, from an exasperated Superman (Channing Tatum) who fends off The Green Hornet’s (Jonah Hill) creepy idolisation to arrogant babe-magnet Batman (Will Arnett) and a grandiose Gandalf (Todd Hansen). Vitruvius predicts a Special One shall appear, to save the Lego universe. Against all odds, that Special One turns out to be Emmet.
It’s bonkers. A kaleidoscopic rush of saturated colours and intense action that whirls from one scene to the next, taking in the Wild West, futuristic cityscapes and the trippy, candy coloured Cloud Cuckoo Land (if the writers didn’t ingest performance enhancing substances before coming up with that sequence, we’re a giraffe). Crucially, it’s backed with a witty and surprisingly satirical script that continually throws out surreal gems. From New Zealand described as the land of “Knights, poverty, leeches and illiteracy” to Bad Cop absent-mindedly crooning Danny Boy, there is much to savour. And look out for the live-action nostalgia trip towards the end. If that doesn’t warm your cockles then there’s no hope.
UK release 14 February
Forget morals, forget scruples, forget decency. The Sloth came out of The Wolf Of Wall Street on a toxic high. No more Mr. Nice Sloth, we want money, we want drugs, we want corruption and we want it now.
Based on the biography of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), it traces his career as a Wall Street trader. Coming from humble beginnings Jordan first and foremost was a salesman, discovering a love of money from an early age. But no sooner had he worked his way into a top Wall Street firm, the famous Black Monday crash of 1987 landed him jobless.
Undeterred, Jordan started again at a downmarket firm specialising in penny stocks – low budget investments bought by those of lower incomes. Realising this untapped marked held a fortune waiting to be made, Jordan put his silver salesman’s tongue in action, drafted in new buddy Donnie (Jonah Hill) and founded his own company that was soon raking in cash by the bucketload.
And with money came the legendary 80’s excess. Idolized by his employees, Jordan ran a somewhat unorthodox workplace where perks included dwarf throwing contests, hookers (neatly categorised into three different quality levels) and management strategy sessions fuelled by cocktails of drugs to aid creative thinking. Inevitably, greed bred greed and Jordan’s business deals became increasingly murky as he flew ever closer to the sun, till eventually it all began to unravel.
Jordan’s behaviour is odious but interestingly, no obvious moral judgements are made. The Sloth was as swept up in the macho, fist-bumping, ‘hell yeah!’ philosophy as his workplace disciples. Of course we know snorting cocaine of a prostitute’s bum isn’t acceptable behaviour, but it sure looked fun at the time. What does that say about us? Given half the chance and opportunity we’d do the same? We’re not sure, but it certainly gave us an exhilaratingly entertaining ride while we considered it. Go see. Just promise us you won’t throw any vertically challenged people against dartboards afterwards.
UK release 17 January
We’re sure Hollywood isn’t really like this, but we wish it was. This Is The End features all your favourite comedy actooors playing themselves. Or hopefully a version of themselves, because God help Michael Cera otherwise.
James Franco is having a housewarming party. All of Hollywood’s young, comedy acting mafia are invited. Jonah Hill is there, Seth Rogan is there, Jay Baruchel is there, Craig Robinson is there. Rihanna is there and Emma Watson is there. Although The Sloth had some trouble picturing Emma’s clipped tones fitting in with the rest of the Hollywood homies, but no matter.
Clearly a film about James’ Franco’s housewarming party, whilst amusing in a Through The Keyhole kind of way, would get a little dull after a while. So when Seth and Jay nip out to buy fags, their shopping is interrupted by The Apocalypse. Shafts of blue light appear from the heavens, beaming up hundreds of locals. Fires break out, cars crash into each other. A chasm into the bowels of the earth appears in James Franco’s lawn and swallows up Rihanna. In panic, James, Seth, Jonah, Craig and Jay dodge holes and crashing electricity pylons and barricade themselves inside the house to sit out the chaos.
The comic delight is in the detail. Jonah Hill, aka Nicest Man In Hollywood, adopts incontinent Spaniels and preaches empathy. James Franco has a slightly creepy man-crush on Seth. Michael Cera is an obnoxious, universally hated coke-fiend who engages in unmentionable acts in the toilet. And The Sloth won’t spoil things by revealing details of Channing Tatum’s cameo, but he is one seriously good sport. It’s crude and it’s rude but it’s also very funny. If Judgement Day is this entertaining, bring it on.
UK release 28 June