I get the feeling I’m not the target audience for The Lego Movie. Not only am I not a kid who plays with Legos, but I’m not an adult who used to play with Legos. While others may see the flick as an extension of their playtime hours or a nostalgic reminder of their youth, I see it as one long product placement with really primitive-looking 3-D animation. Directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), The Lego Movie is designed to appear as if it’s made with Lego toys. When the heroes end up in the ocean, even the water is constructed out of Lego bricks. At times, the plot developments likewise seem to have been dreamed up by a young Lego enthusiast, as when superheroes such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Women join forces with real-life figures like Shakespeare and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s the kind of conglomeration only someone with access to a variety of Lego sets could have imagined. Other times, the plot follows a well-worn path that seems numbingly derivative. At its center is Emmet (Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt), a construction worker who prides himself on being faultlessly normal. Then Emmet stumbles upon a mysterious object called the Piece of Resistance and a rebellious woman who calls herself Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks). Together with a magical figure named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), she tries to convince Emmet he’s the Special, a messiah-like “master builder” who’s destined to save the world from the machinations of the evil President Business (Will Ferrell). A seemingly ordinary guy who’s told he has hidden powers and struggles to fulfill his destiny? This is familiar territory. To be sure, The Lego Movie leavens the stock developments with satire. I just wish the satire was less heavy-handed than the things it’s satirizing. Emmet lives in a society that encourages its citizens to purchase overpriced coffee, root for the hometown sports team, listen to endless repetitions of the same mindlessly upbeat song (Everything Is Awesome) and watch a sitcom whose one and only joke seems to be that the central character is missing his pants. OK, we get it. Our society encourages banal conformity. But would it have confused younger viewers if the filmmakers had made the point with a bit more subtlety? Soon, and often, the movie explodes into violence that is blurringly fast and over-the-top. Again, the intent is satirical—the target being any number of Hollywood action films. In the end, the plot’s odder elements are explained by a reveal that I won’t give away. As with the rest of the movie, your reaction may depend on whether or not you’re a Lego aficionado. If you are, you’ll likely hail the fact that the flick speaks up for nonconformity and creativity. If you aren’t, you may be put off by the insinuation that the best way to express your nonconformity and creativity is by buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of Lego sets. Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) for Lego fans; 2½ stars for non-fans Team targets Hitler, the art thief “Do you think it was worth it?” Frank Stokes (George Clooney) is asked at the end of The Monuments Men. The professor has been tasked with recovering thousands of pieces of historic art that the Nazis stole from occupied countries during World War II. It’s a dangerous mission that was begun while the war was still under way, and it has resulted in the deaths of some of the art experts he recruited for the job. But Stokes has no trouble in answering the question of whether the results were worth the sacrifice: Yes. Movie buffs may ask themselves a parallel question at the end of the Clooney-directed drama. Was it worth it sitting through an undeniably flawed film to learn about a fascinating piece of history? I can’t answer for everyone, but it was for me. As the director and co-writer, Clooney lends the tale an old-fashioned air of noble heroics mixed with frequent attempts at humor. Sometimes the humor works, and sometimes it doesn’t. It works when team member James Granger (Matt Damon) insists he can speak French, only to be informed by various Frenchmen that he can’t. It doesn’t work when Granger steps on a mine and is asked more than once, “Why would you do that?” Worst of all are the film’s descents into generic sappiness, as when Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) receives a recorded Christmas greeting from his family and his team partner (Bob Balaban) plays it over the camp loudspeaker. Clooney’s cast of reliable A-listers also includes John Goodman, Cate Blanchett and The Artist’s Jean Dujardin. All acquit themselves well, but no one is allowed to develop a particularly deep character. Still, every time the team rescues another stash of timeless art to the strains of Alexandre Desplat’s stirring score, the emotions are genuine and heartfelt. Yes, it was worth it. Rating: 3 stars (our of 5)