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2014 in film: Why 'The Lego Movie' is the year's most successful original movie

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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/AP

(Read caption) 'The Lego Movie' features characters voiced by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett.

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In 2014, one of the best stories at the movies was one involving a bunch of your child’s favorite toys. 

This February’s “The Lego Movie,” an animated film about Emmet Brickowski (“Guardians of the Galaxy” star Chris Pratt) and his adventures with a group of superheroes and franchise characters, was the fourth-highest grossing movie of 2014, according to the website Box Office Mojo. It's also one of the only films in the top 10 with an original story. (We’re using the term "original story" loosely: Emmet’s adventures include encounters with comic book characters like Batman and Superman, but the central story of Emmet and Wyldstyle’s battles with the evil Lord Business is a new narrative for the movie.) Four of the highest-grossing films this year – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – were based on comic books, while the third-highest grossing film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” is based on the book by Suzanne Collins. “Maleficent,” the sixth-highest grossing film, is based on the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale and “Godzilla” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the tenth- and eighth-highest grossing films, are both based on previous movies.

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Meanwhile, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fifth-highest grossing film, is also an original story, but it wasn't well-received by critics. (Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty voted the movie one of the worst of the year and called the film's story "as narratively coherent as your average funny-pages word jumble.")

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In contrast, “Lego” was praised for its story and humor. The movie’s jokes include tweaks on films’ prophecies about heroes (a wise character voiced by Morgan Freeman ends a prophecy with “All this is true because it rhymes”) and villains having paper-thin disguises (represented in “Lego” by the fact that the characters in the film apparently can’t connect that Lord Business and President Business are the same person). 

Associated Press reviewer Jessica Herndon called the movie “uproarious yet touching.”

“[Directors and writers Phil] Lord and [Christopher] Miller nail the fuzzy ‘believe-in-yourself’ message and score with a spoof-heavy, yet engaging plot,” she wrote. “They've created a delightful tale championing self-reliance and distinctiveness. And though it detours from a strict brick world in the final act, the cheery humor always clicks.”


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