"The Lego Movie" is the surprise critical smash of 2014

Exactly 65 years after Denmark started making plastic bricks that allowed children to build anything using their imaginations, LEGO has been brought to life on the big screen. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, Clone High), it boasts the voices of an all-star cast including Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett.

But does The LEGO Movie have what it takes to be a blockbuster? Here’s a look at what some of the critics are saying.

Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly called The LEGO Movie “outrageous and intoxicating fun.”

He wrote: “It’s fast and original, it’s conceptually audacious, it’s visually astonishing, and it’s 10 times more clever and smart and funny than it needed to be. Here, at last, is an animated comedy that never stops surprising you.”

At the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips was equally effusive.

The LEGO Movie proves you can soar directly into and then straight past product placement into a realm of sublime, if you’re clever enough,” he wrote.

“This isn’t just the funniest PG-rated animation in too long; it’s the funniest film, period, in months.”

Richard Corliss of TIME credited the directors with transforming plastic blocks into “charming and rapacious characters a viewer can instantly accept and believe in.”

The Hollywood Reporter reviewer Michael Rechtshaffen opined The LEGO Movie shows other animated movies how it’s done.

“It’s a non-stop blast from beginning to end, jam-packed with a wacky irreverence, dazzling state-of-the-art CGI and a pitch-perfect voice cast.”

Peter Debruge at Variety agreed, calling the movie “hip” and “irreverent.”

He added it’s “wildly creative,” “lively” and “more than a little overwhelming.”

At The Telegraph, Robbie Collin was a fan.

“Never before have I felt less like a film was selling me a product, and then left the cinema more desperate to fill my house with the product it wasn’t selling,” he wrote, calling it an “uproariously funny family adventure.”

Collin added: “Parents who themselves grew up with Lego in their toy-boxes will almost certainly feel the prickle of nostalgia, and a sweet, witty passage late in the film acknowledges that for fathers, in particular, a son or daughter’s plastic bricks can spirit them back to a childhood long-past.”

Forbes reviewer Scott Mendelson said The LEGO Movie “may in fact be brilliant.”

“Once the pieces come together and everything snaps into place, The LEGO Movie is eventually far more as a whole than perhaps it is as a sum of its parts, and it is a far more challenging, profound, and outright moving piece of art than financial success required,” he wrote.

“By going off the proverbial reservation, making what amounts to a Lego movie for adults, even at the risk of displeasing those who wanted nothing more than a nostalgic wink fest, The LEGO Movie merits praise as a true work of thematic richness. It succeeds both as a part of pop culture and a dissertation about its power, both for good and for ill.”

Mendelson added: “In short, The LEGO Movie is awesome.”