Sometimes I need to be reminded that I pay way too much attention to the movies coming out in theaters. As we left a recent family screening of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s amazing The LEGO Movie (which finally opens in theaters everywhere), I joked to my wife about the voices of a couple of superheroes in the film, and the meta nod it made to Lord and Miller’s Jump Street reboot. As it turns out, she didn’t recognize either of the voices, so the joke kind of flew right over her head.
Part of the fun of an animated movie – particularly one stuffed to the gills with major characters – is trying to place the celebrity voice who’s supporting a cartoon character on screen. Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to LEGO Movie marketing knows that Chris Pratt of Parks and Rec voices Emmet, the main LEGO man in the movie. Will Arnett’s obviously the gravel-voiced Batman, and Will Ferrell voices Lord Business. But which other pop-culture staples can be heard throughout The LEGO Movie?
If you don’t want to be spoiled on a few of the surprises waiting for you in LEGO, bookmark this feature and come back after you’ve enjoyed the film. However, if you want to impress your family by pointing out these bits of vocal trivia, dig right in!
Bad Cop/Good CopThere’s a point late in The LEGO Movie when the schizophrenic Good Cop/Bad Cop stats singing "Danny Boy," which should be a dead giveaway that this ruthless enforcer for Lord Business is played by Ireland’s own, Liam Neeson. Because his LEGO role demands that he fluctuate between sweetness and evil as he wrestles with his inner demons, Neeson’s allowed to channel his inner Oskar Schindler, as well as his Ra’s al Ghul. Just don’t show either of those films to your children as a LEGO Movie follow up. Not until they are much older.
SupermanMove over, Henry Cavill. When Lord and Miller needed an actor to lend his voice to the Man of Steel, they chose none other than… Magic Mike? Sure, Channing Tatum probably ranks as a superhero in the eyes of several female readers. But there’s a deeper connection going on with this casting. Tatum, of course, plays Jenko in both Jump Street movies, which were directed by LEGO helmers Lord and Miller. So this team is quickly becoming the Scorsese-DeNiro of absurd-humor movies. It also helps explain our next voice casting.
Green LanternThere’s a funny "bromance" undercutting the scenes between Superman and Green Lantern in The LEGO Movie, which will make more sense once you realize that Lantern, in this film, is played by Jonah Hill. Yes, Tatum’s Jump Street partner also tries to be Superman’s bestie on screen here. And if these jokes are your cup of tea, you might as well get in line for 22 Jump Street, which has Hill and Tatum heading to college for more crime-fighting shenanigans.
Wonder WomanSo much for Marvel loyalty. Wonder Woman, in The LEGO Movie, is voiced by the lovely Cobie Smulders… who many of you might know as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill from the Avengers movie and Marvel’s own Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show (where she occasionally appears). She also has a recognizable voice because millions tune in to her weekly sitcom How I Met Your Mother, where she plays Robin. So while Gal Gadot of the Fast & Furious franchise is actually schedule to step into Wonder Woman’s invisible jet for Zack Snyder’s pending Batman-Superman movie, Smulders gets the nod from Lord and Miller. Let’s hope that doesn’t create a rift over at Marvel as they gear up for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Uni-KittySmulders isn’t the only sitcom actress finding additional work in LEGO. When Emmet and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) venture off an the insanely colorful dream world in the sky, they meet the adorable Uni-Kitty, voiced by Mad Men and Community cutie Alison Brie. Don’t expect the actress to mimic the sweet, kind nature of her Community character, Annie Edison, though. Uni-Kitty has a deep, dark secret… one that just might help Emmet save the day.
Abraham LincolnHere’s where things start getting a little strange. Lord and Miller’s The LEGO Movie is nothing if not creative, and the ability to build and change via LEGO pieces means that audiences are never exactly sure where the adventure might head. So while you’d expect to see world-saving characters like Batman and Superman in an adventure movie like this, we were completely shocked to find former President Abraham Lincoln on screen… especially when his chair turned into a rocket-powered craft that carried the late leader away from the chaos on screen. Needless to say, that’s MacGruber himself, SNL vet Will Forte, lending his voice to "Honest" Abe.
William ShakespeareAnd if you thought Lincoln was an odd choice for The LEGO Movie, wait until you see The Bard battling alongside Superman during a pivotal action scene. William Shakespeare’s voice might be tough to place, mainly because Jorma Taccone is best known as a writer on Saturday Night Live. But he has appeared in a number of the sketch-comedy show’s Digital Shorts alongside his Lonely Island cohorts Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, and he does a mean Shakespeare… at least, how we imagine Shakespeare probably would have sounded, if we were able to hear him back in the late 1500s.
Metal BeardA Parks and Rec reunion, as Pratt joins Nick Offerman for some LEGO Movie fun. If you only know Offerman as the droll, no-nonsense Ron Swanson on NBC’s hysterical sitcom, then you won’t even recognize the pirate speak he affects to play Metal Beard – a damaged pirate with an axe to grind against Lord Business. Offerman brings an unhinged energy to Metal Beard, turning him into the polar opposite of Swanson. However, if you’ve seen the comedian in excellent films like The Kings of Summer or even the passable We’re the Millers, you know he’s capable of various, manic personalities. This one just happens to have several body parts made out of LEGO metal.
Shaquille O’NealFormer Los Angeles Laker great Shaquille O’Neal earns the distinct pleasure of being the only person in The LEGO Movie who voices himself. That’s how famous Shaq is. There’s an actual LEGO of him, in a Lakers jersey, and Lord and Miller put him in the film. This isn’t the best photo of him, and he appears to be holding a pizza (for reasons I can’t remember… there’s a lot of stuff happening on screen in this movie!) But when you hear LEGO Shaq speak, it isn’t someone doing an impersonation. It’s the real deal.
Which brings us to our last one. Major spoilers await on this final voice (or team of voices). Don’t click if you don’t want to spoil a great joke. Seriously, don’t.
Han, Lando and C-3PODid you click? Well, then you know that Lord and Miller land an incredibly funny Star Wars joke in their film, and they actually get a few Star Wars veterans to reprise their roles for the scene. Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels hop aboard the Millennium Falcon for an inspired bit that finds Batman infiltrating George Lucas’ universe. Han Solo’s part of the gag, but Harrison Ford’s too much of a stick in the mud to play along. But the LEGO team gets vocal pro Keith Ferguson – who has voiced Han Solo and Indiana Jones in multiple Robot Chicken projects – to fill in. It was my favorite scene in The LEGO Movie, and now you know who was responsible!
The Lego Movie is in theaters now. For more of our coverage on this fantastic movie, read our review, then click here.