in Review

The Lego Movie

It seems like the logical next step. The Lego Company had already conquered the fun-for-everyone toy market. They had already turned every franchise under the sun into somewhat positively received video games. It was time to make a movie. But man, that’s a pretty tricky next step. After all, how could you possibly make Lego, on its own, into a movie and not have it feel like a 90 minute commercial? By making the movie about attacking the core conceit behind the product.

Soon-to-be biggest movie star in the word Chris Pratt stars as Emmet, the plainest and most ordinary minifig in the whole Lego world. He’s happy living by the rules and laws set in place by President Business (Will Ferrell) until he meets Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and accidentally finds himself on the run when he gets Piece of Resistance stuck on his back. As he learns about President Business’ nefarious plans, he also discovers that you don’t have to follow the rules as he meets up with the master builders, including Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett).

That, to me, is the weirdest part of the movie. Lego’s entire business model is selling pre-packaged kits. The only reason I made original things is because I would build things, they’d break, and we’d throw the pieces into a communal Lego bin. When I went to the store to buy Legos, it was to buy specific kits, not just a collection of assorted bricks. I mean hell, look at what gets marketed, it’s always the kits. Even the video games are all about cross-marketing a franchise and Lego. People buy Lego Star Wars, not Let’s Go Build, You Know, Whatever, with Legos.

In effect, The Lego Movie is telling kids not to go buy more Lego kits, but to go home and build something new out of what they’ve already got. And that’s a really neat message for a movie like this to have – it’s kind of the same message Toy Story had. That the whole narrative is kind of invalidated by some bold, and perhaps poor, narrative choices in the last act doesn’t take away from that. And to be honest, it doesn’t invalidate how fun the rest of the movie is either.

Let me be clear, this is some fast-paced shit. Kids these days, they want a fucking ride. There is always a lot going on the screen, keeping every moment exciting and colorful and maybe a little overstimulated. I’m not really sure how much of this is stop-motion and how much is CG, but I can say the movie looks really good. I guess that’s a testament to the work done here that I can’t see the difference. The Lego Movie is action-packed and when they’re not racing, fighting, or exploding, you can bet they’re making jokes.

Probably my greatest personal joy watching The Lego Movie is its sense of humor. There are a lot of pop culture references, all of which I got, which seems kind of weird since I wouldn’t place myself exactly in the target demographic for this movie, but whatever. But there’s a lot more to the comedy than that, and I especially enjoyed the gags that pointed out the reality of the story being played out by toys. What can I say, this was the most fun I’ve had with Legos since Lego Rock Band.