The Lego Movie (U) ****

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A warm glow of nostalgia permeates Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The LEGO Movie, which cleverly employs the latest technical wizardry to mimic the crude, imperfect movements of stop-motion animation.

The result is a hoot, celebrating the enduring power and popularity of a toy invented in the late 1940s.

Leg(o)pull ' Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) .

Leg(o)pull ' Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) .

Directors Lord and Miller, who helmed the first Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, strike a delicious tone of irreverence throughout to ensure parents enjoy the ride just as much as kids.

The hero is a socially awkward LEGO mini-figure called Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), who works on a building site in his hometown of Bricksburg.

Desperate to fit in, Emmet follows the dictates laid down by President Business (Will Ferrell), who is actually arch-villain Lord Business in disguise. This nefarious tyrant plans to destroy Bricksburg and the neighbouring districts of Cloud Cuckoo Land and Middle Zealand using an artefact known as The Kragle.

Ancient wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and his sassy henchwoman Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) mistake Emmet for a mythical figure known as Master Builder, who possesses the power to create anything out of LEGO bricks with his mind. According to the prophecy, Master Builder will locate the Piece Of Resistance and destroy The Kragle. Emmet is press-ganged into leading the perilous quest to defeat the despot aided by a rogue’s gallery of mini-figures including Wyldstyle’s boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders), Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) and a classic 1980s-era blue spaceman named Benny (Charlie Day).

The heroes are pursued by schizophrenic law-maker and -breaker Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).

The script is peppered with wry one-liners, cinematic homages and an infectious theme song – Everything Is Awesome – that burrows into the brain and refuses to leave quietly.

Pratt, Ferrell and co deliver ebullient vocal performances, which are complemented by frenetic action sequences by LEGO land, sea and air. The final 10 minutes provide a heart-warming surprise, guaranteed to have kids grinning with glee.