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Posted: February 10, 2014

Why so much love for The Lego Movie?


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So, "The LEGO Movie" came out this weekend, becoming the latest in a series of big-budget, action-packed films cashing on children's toys from the past. The difference? Apparently, this one's actually pretty good. 

The animated film features an everyman LEGO worker who is accidentally swept up in a rebellion against the conformist dystopian LEGO society after being mistaken for a savior by a group of freedom fighters. (Via Warner Bros. / "The LEGO Movie")

There are silly jokes, and pop culture references, and in the end creativity and individuality triumph over conformity. Sounds like typical kids-movie schlock, right? Well, you'd be surprised.

Yes, against all expectations "The LEGO Movie" has become a critical darling. The film's getting high scores on Rotten TomatoesCinemaScore, and Metacritic.

Salon writer calls the movie a delightful surprise for adults. "What could easily have been test-marketed, corporate-processed crap ... instead becomes a surprisingly enjoyable and satisfyingly dense family entertainment."

The high praise is backed up by high profits: "The LEGO Movie" raked in $69.1 million on opening weekend.Forbes notes that's the second-largest February opening in history, behind the $83 million brought in by "The Passion of the Christ".

Not bad for a film about plastic bricks. But what's made "The LEGO Movie" such a big hit?

Slate's movie critic says low expectations certainly were a factor. "I went in hoping at best for something intermittently amusing, not too visually and sonically assaultive, and over soon."

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And a lot of the credit for the movie's success is being attributed to its dynamic director duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The minds behind "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and "21 Jump Street" toldScreenCrush they couldn't resist the challenge of trying to make a smart LEGO movie. (Via Flickr / Gage Skidmore)

Of course, the film has attracted its fair share of criticism as well. Several reviewers, including a writer forTime, found the film's anti-corporate message a little hypocritical coming from the multibillion dollar LEGO corporation.

And a couple of Fox Business hosts took issue with the movie's portrayal of its lead villain — Lord Business.

And although "The LEGO Movie" is stealing the spotlight, it wasn't the only movie to come out this weekend. George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" pulled in a respectable $22 million, while "Vampire Academy" struggled with only $4.1 million.

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