This may seem like an odd follow-up to my Saturday post on LEGO’s gender stereotypes problem, but I could think of no better way to transition from my latest crusade to 2WC’s movie paced countdown to the Oscars. So, enjoy this special Movie Monday review:
If nothing else, The LEGO Movie proves that old adage, don’t judge a movie by its blatantly branded facade (or something like that). It’s proof that a good story can come from anywhere.
There aren’t many brands that could so blatantly plaster their product on a feature film and get away with it, but fortunately for us, LEGO is one of them. In spite of its highly marketable origins, the film is able to tell a story that captures the imagination of children and adults alike.
Our hero, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), is an everyman. He lives his life by the book. He likes the right kind of music, watches the right kind of television, and goes about his life as an average construction worker as is expected of him.
Little does he know that all of these rules he follows so well are being dictated by an evil genius, Lord Business (Will Ferrell), known as President Business to his subjects. Lord Business and his army of micro-managers are plotting to freeze all of the LEGO realms into an eternal and unchanging state of perfection with the help of his secret weapon—the Kragle (known to you and I as Krazy glue).
The underlying message is anything but subtle. Even Emmet, who knows nothing else, occasionally and very briefly questions the legitimacy of some of the propaganda pushed out by the overlord. Of course these moments of thought are quickly swept aside for the much easier path of the status quo.
It’s not until after he spots the rebelious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around his construction site, that Emmet stumbles upon his fate, or more accurately careens into it. Soon after, he learns of the prophecy, foretold by the great Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), which names him the master builder who will save all LEGO-kind from Lord Business and his secret weapon. Although still unsure of his own abilities, Emmet sets off with his recently formed band of master builders to thwart the plans of Lord Business.
My one criticism of this film is still under debate, and it is their decision to include live-action. I can’t decide if it was brilliant or unnecessary.
It’s more than a little jarring to have that suspension of disbelief, which is really required when you’re watching a movie that stars LEGO people, ripped away. The blatant point of fact that these characters you’ve come to know have absolutely no power over their fates gets a little existential. And as I said, the symbolism is pretty blatant to the adult audience, and I don’t think the kids really need it spelled out either.
I reserve the right to waffle on this point for the foreseeable future.
In many ways The LEGO Movie is a contradiction in terms. It’s central conceit vilifies the over-reach of corporations, yet the movie the film itself is a feature film length ad for the building blocks. Fortunately for them, it’s so well done, that it’s hard to hold the commercialism against them.
Overall, and against all odds, it turns out the The LEGO Movie, is an entertaining satire, starring children’s toys. It’s not perfect, but it is perfectly entertaining for all ages.