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‘The Lego Movie’

by Giovanni Fazio

Read almost any overseas review of “The Lego Movie” and it will say what a clever, riotous laugh-fest it is. So why, then, at a recent Tokyo screening, was not one giggle heard over the course of 100 minutes? Why did it feel like a movie designed to give your kids ADD: hyperactive, loud and relentless?

The Lego Movie
Rating
Director Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Language Dubbed in Japanese (some screenings in English with Japanese subtitles)

The blame falls squarely on the Japanese-language dub, which loses the level of humor aimed at the parents and nearly all the sly jokes, winding up with a movie aimed squarely at the under-8s. Some of this is unavoidable: Casting Morgan Freeman to voice the wise graybeard elder in this parody of Hollywood “chosen one” heroic quest movies was a brilliant move, filled with all sorts of resonances from other films, but that’s all lost in the dub, as are some inspired cameos. But beyond that, the voice acting is generic and lacking in character and, worse by far, the dubbed dialogue is turned up louder in the mix, which, combined with the natural J-comedy tendency to think that anything is funnier when shouted, makes for a very grating film.

Screening in English at Shinjuku Piccadilly (Tokyo) and Osaka Station City Cinema. For a chance to win a “The Lego Movie” T-shirt (kids M), visit jtimes.jp/film.