If the Looney Toons team had played with plastic blocks that snap together, “The Lego Movie” is the kind of surreal subversion they might have made.
Their Looney heirs, the guys behind the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller), have turned a 90-minute exercise in product placement into a trippy clarion call for creativity — for not following “the instructions” of these fiendishly simple Danish building blocks.
The story — if you can call it that — is a riff on “Tron,” an alternate world out of sight of our own whose denizens lead an assault on conformity. The characters, ranging from a blind wizard (Morgan Freeman) and “master builder” ninja (Elizabeth Banks) to Batman (a growling Will Arnett), an evil overlord named President Business (Will Ferrell) and his Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) henchman, make the case that it’s those who can improvise, invent and see the world differently who are “the special.”
Mild-mannered Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just another yellow-faced Lego construction worker who is a model citizen in a planned society. He follows the rules.
“Always return a compliment. Always root for the local sports team ...” Everybody loves the same TV show — “Where are My Pants?” Everbody’s “jam” is the same song — “Everything is AWEsome.”
And then Emmet stumbles onto an object of prophecy, “the piece of resistance.” That must mean he’s the chosen one, “the special.”
So Wyldstyle (Banks) tries to help him get that “piece” to where it can stop President (actually Lord) Business from destroying the many Lego universes, from Bricksville to the Old West to Middle Zealand.