In any other situation, The Lego Movie would’ve been used as a promotional tool to shill out a new line of toys to wide-eyed youth while parents have premonitions of their wallet getting lighter by the second. Luckily, filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – who were responsible for the surrealist Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs adaptation and the hilarious 21 Jump Street reboot – to shut down that possibility completely.
If you attend a screening of The Lego Movie, you’ll be treated to vigorous animation, roaring jokes stemming from an astute sense of humour, and unexpected sentimental messages that don’t feel prying.
Lego has always been adamant on following instructions to assemble a mass product, and the filmmakers (along with Dan and Kevin Hageman) latch onto this concept to build their movie.
Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is one of many who abides by a ritualistic lifestyle. Everyone eats the same things, they drink the same expensive coffee, and everyone listens to the same upbeat tune that promises everyone that “everything is awesome”.
The Lego Movie is obviously simulating a society that’s been overtaken by materialism and consumerism that seems robotic but is ordinary and enjoyable to everyone – including Emmet. It’s a projection that is not only plastic on the outside, but litters the inner workings of every action in this happy community. President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) holds the power over the city, and knows perfectly well how everything is – pardon the pun – another brick in the wall. And with this knowledge, he has bigger plans for ultimate destruction which will cause everything to never exceed being anything more than “normal”.
With that synopsis, there’s a slight worry that the film’s messages will hector us throughout The Lego Movie. Fortunately for us, Lord and Miller are wise storytellers who have a fantastic sense of how to speak to audiences without making matters too conspicuous. These pokes at shallowness go in for the kill in a humorous way, but stay away from being too flippant.
There was a moment where I held my breath. Emmet soon meets a group of individuals who are living “off the grid” that tell our unlikely hero that rules are not always a necessity. These moments made me scared that Lord and Miller were sprinkling anti-establishment ideas in the subtext during these vivid visuals and hearty laughs. It’s a silly claim to get worked up about, but I can’t help myself when this film is targeted towards a young audience who soaks nearly everything up.
Without spoiling anything from the film, The Lego Movie does fix itself. It doesn’t have a hidden agenda like some animated films shamefully tout (I’m looking at you, Lorax), and lets kids know that both their imaginations are appreciated while following guidelines.
Enough with the seriousness, however. This is a movie called The Lego Movie after all! If we look past the morality groundwork, movie goers receive a spry outing that both kids and adults can equally lavishly watch.
The story that features many Lego characters – old and new – always finds itself moving in a helpful direction, allowing any type of high-speed pursuit or quippy riffs to take the wheel for an appropriate amount of time.
The film itself has a super imagination. Franchise characters play pivotal roles in the film’s narrative and our heroes are always thinking about creative ways to get themselves out of a pickle. The Lego Movie is not trying to sell us any crummy puns or play sets. It’s here to educate viewers that playfulness and ingenuity is acceptable. Most of all, Lord and Miller want to entertain audiences. And, that they do.
By the final act, you’re satisfied with what the film has set out to do. However, some last minute punches are pulled. I try not to use the word “brilliant” too often for fear that the highly acclaimed word will lose impact. But, when a film goes the extra mile to provide a new risky layer to its structure and manages to pull it off, then it deserves the praise.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller finish the film on an assortment of wowing inspiration, and manage to make their film much more than that film with “Lego” in its title or “just another kids movie”.
For me, The Lego Movie hits those same revolutionary tones the first Toy Story did in 1995. To not say this ingenious film is brilliant would be robbing the movie out of the esteem it deserves. Go. See. This. Movie. Now.