Defying conventional wisdom, The Lego Movie has proven to be enormously popular and wildly funny — not just among the toy brand’s target audience of children, but for adults as well. Released in 2014, the quirky movie generated north of $450 million at the box office, earned glowing reviews, and bestowed a hip cachet to the line of plastic figures and snap-together bricks.
On January 29, Legoland Florida will debut a sequel of sorts when it opens The Lego Movie 4D A New Adventure. Developed exclusively for the toymaker’s theme parks (it’s set to open February 6 at Legoland California and at all Legoland Discovery Centers soon after that), it’s really more of a mini reunion. The 12 ½-minute film brings some of the movie’s key characters and voice talent back together for a story set at Brick World, a shameless knockoff of Legoland.
Rendered in glorious CGI animation, the unlikely gang of returning do-gooders includes leading lady Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), the pirate with the oversized, weapons-packed body, MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), spaceman Benny (Charlie Day), and unicorn/anime kitten mashup with serious anger management issues, Unikitty (Alison Brie). Instead of Chris Pratt, voice actor A.J. LoCascio takes over the role of everymini hero, Emmet. Also MIA is Will Ferrell. The Lego Movie 4D introduces Risky, the brother of Ferrell’s character, President Business. (Yup, that makes him Risky Business).
As with the theatrical movie, the new film simultaneously succeeds on two levels. Your children will love the fizzy action and silly antics. You will love the sly, laugh-out-loud, meta dialogue and absurd plot developments that will sail right over kids’ heads. How sly and absurd? Upon meeting Risky, not-Chris-Pratt Emmet remarks that Business’ “voice sounds so much less expensive” than his brother’s. Played by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, the megalomaniac replies, “Indeed. And with the millions I saved on voice talent, I made something truly spectacular – a magical, fun-tagical place with rides based off of your adventures in The Lego Movie!” The nonstop stream of self-aware lines like those is hilarious – and sometimes bordering on mildly subversive. And this is at a Legoland theme park, no less.
In order for Brick World to work, Lord Business needs to subdue the protagonists and incorporate them against their will into the park’s shows and attractions. Will evil and corporate profits triumph over the earnest, if hopelessly overmatched Emmet and pals? Did we not learn that everything is awesome in the original movie?
To help thwart the baddies, the Master Builders enlist the help of the audience, thereby making them part of the action. The “4D” effects also immerse guests in the attraction. Shot in 3D, the fourth “D” includes sensory enhancements such as water spritzes and wind blasts.
The New Adventure has the same delightfully off-kilter sensibility as its predecessor. There are even some subtle – and funny – digs at the Disney parks (the President Business to Legoland’s more ragtag Emmet). But underneath all of the shenanigans, there are some heartfelt human feelings that resonate (well, as human as CGI renderings of plastic figures can be, I suppose). Given its much shorter run time and its theme park setting, the Legoland film doesn’t have the ability to go as deeply as the original movie. But the qualities that first endeared us to the characters are bubbling just beneath the surface.
Helming the new film is Rob Schrab, who also co-wrote the script. Known for his work on smart, celebrated TV shows such as Community and The Sarah Silverman Program, he brings a deft touch to the proceedings and maintains the tone of the first film. “We only spotlight [the characters] for a fraction of the amount of time,” Schrab said, “so it’s important to get to the fun as soon as possible.”
But he’ll have plenty of time to go deeper when he takes over the director’s chair forThe Lego Movie sequel, which is in production and is scheduled for a May 2018 release. “The events of the first movie will push the second chapter forward and upward,” said Schrab. “[We have] written a lot of funny stuff for Emmet and Wyldstyle, but there’s a deep, emotional message at the core of the story.”
Until then, you and your kids can check out the awesome and fun-tagical Legoland 4D movie.
The Lego Movie 4D A New Adventure is included with admission to the Legoland theme parks and Leogland Discovery Centers.