Weekend Forecast for February 7-9, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
February 7, 2014
It's a hodgepodge trio of films for this first weekend of February, united only by their total lack of things in common. It's the proverbial “something for everyone” weekend, and while only one of the films stands to be a real hit, at least the other two aren't likely to be total bombs.
By far and away, the leader of the pack will be The Lego Movie, directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord of Clone High fame... and oh yeah, of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street (I chose that order deliberately!). While basing a movie around a construction toy seems like an exercise in selling out, that ignores the shift that's occurred in Lego over the last 20 years or so. While the basic idea of building whatever you want (usually buildings or spaceships) has remained in the sets, they've also engaged in an aggressive campaign of cross branding with movies, TV and other pop culture, including DTV movies and video games, which play with the logical absurdities that would happen if the world was made of Lego. See, for instance, the Star Wars and Indiana Jones connections (among others). So the groundwork for this has been laid over a long time.
Into this step Miller and Lord, who have a penchant for blending pop culture into smart scripts about real ideas. Excitingly, the “build whatever” vs. “complete sets” debate among Lego enthusiasts appears to be the actual running throughline of the movie. The film centers around a Lego mini-fig voiced by Chris Pratt (playing up the lovable doofus angle) who is mistaken for one of the famed “Master Builders”, who can create anything in the Lego universe. He's drafted into service to battle Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) who has invented something to fix the entire Lego universe into place as it is, permanently. Like, this is a legitimately great idea for a plot in this scenario and it's hard to imagine someone coming up with a better idea.
Guiding Pratt's character are a host of pop culture icons including Batman, Superman (take that, Zack Snyder!), Abe Lincoln, a wizard, and a mysterious female character that's part action hero, part guru (voiced by Elizabeth Banks). Also in the strong voice cast are Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Will Forte, Allison Brie, Jonah Hill, Dave Franco, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman, Channing Tatum... I could go on. Another bright spot for the film is its animation style, which while computer generated, has a neat faux-stop motion style and offers something quite different to family audiences.
And that's yet another point in the film's favor, as it definitely seems to offer messages and jokes to all age groups, and the numerous jokes featured in commercials appear to hit the mark perfectly. Connecting with so many various elements of pop culture might just make it this generation's Roger Rabbit, and lest you think I've overstated my case, reviews for the film are near rapturous. As of the time of this writing, the movie is sitting at an astounding *99%* fresh rating in reviews. I know, I'm scared too. This has the feeling of one of those times where something builds on its own momentum, and I'm feeling quite bullish at its prospects. Based on the track record of the creators, the fantastic reviews and commercials which hit all targets, I believe this will win the weekend with an opening figure of around $52 million.