The Lego Movie is a work of genius. It’s a movie I would like to freeze-frame every inch of just so I can admire the detail in *everything*. (A bit like how I felt when I went to Legoland — I couldn’t get enough of all the Lego structures that we saw.) And not just in the settings — I want a closer look at all the dangerous real world objects in the tower! — but in the background action going on. It’s just incredibly amazing.
I mean, who would have thought that a movie about Lego could make any sense? (What’s next, a movie about Tetris?) But it did, which I really have to applaud the filmmakers and the animators for. The film borrows tropes from about every other movie out there — the mistaken hero, the underdog team, the quest to destroy the evil object of power, the ambush in the middle of the movie, etc.; but by virtue of its ‘Lego’-ness and the audience’s familiarity with the toy bricks, made it one of the most original formulaic movies I have ever seen.
It helps that every step of the way, it is SO tongue-in-cheek about itself. The in-jokes about the homogeneity! All the different Lego worlds! Will Arnett’s perfect rendition of Christian Bale’s gravelly Batman voice! Batman popping up everywhere! Ghost Vitruvius! Wyldstyle! (“Are you a DJ?”) Liam Neesom’s Good Cop Bad Cop! Deus ex machinae turning up to save them out of the blue (which Batman calls out disbelievingly)! The Millennium Falcon’s cameo with Han, Chewie, C3PO and Lando! (The only thing that could have made that cooler is if they had gotten Harrison Ford to voice Han Solo — and Ian McKellan to voice Gandalf too — but I suppose they were too expensive, especially with all the royalties that Warner Bros had to pay Disney and all the other properties already.) THAT “UNTITLED SELF-PORTRAIT” SONG, which I swear is funnier and therefore better than the catchy “Everything is Awesome”.
(On a fun note: IMDb’s trivia page says that Emma Stone and Robert Downey Jr. were considered for leading roles. RDJ should have done it! I bet he would have played Batman. ?)
AND they managed to fit in a perfect marketing campaign too by inserting a bona fide Lego commercial at the end extolling the company’s message of unleashing your creativity, playing with your children, and not letting your Lego sit like untouched monuments to the past. In any other movie, audiences might have been turned off by such a blatant commercial inserted in the middle of the movie, but this works because (a) it’s a great twist; (b) the message is in keeping with the storyline; and (c) it’s a heartwarming commercial. (And if there’s anything the Internet likes, it’s heartwarming Lego commercials.) I totally get where the father is coming from in not wanting his son to mess with what he had painstakingly built before; but like Toy Story, the movie puts you in the perspective of the Lego pieces themselves: They shouldn’t be glued down! They should be played with constantly!
It wasn’t all promising though: the movie started out childishly when introducing Emmet, because he was so bland though cheerful when we first see him, which made me a little hesitant that it was going to turn out to be another silly, though likeable, kids movie. I also had to get used to the strangeness of the animation that looked like stop-motion but wasn’t, and the surprise of *everything* being made of Lego bricks, including the elements. But after a while, it got better: the movie picked up speed, the in-jokes came in hard and fast — both about Lego itself as well as the characters they are using (Batman crashing through the sun in the imprint of the Bat signal! Abraham Lincoln saying “A house divided against itself… would be way better than here”!) — and my doubts vanished.
Everything that you didn’t understand, or realise was important, made sense in the end. The Piece de Resistance turning out to be the cap of the superglue! (No wonder they couldn’t get it off Emmet’s back!) Lord Business wanting everything to be uniform and perfect! (Which is kind of a strange motive for a villain who isn’t a psychopath — and it didn’t sit right that they would have a psychopath as a kids’ movie villain — so I didn’t understand why until I saw the real-life counterpart.) The “prophecy” coming true only 8 1/2 years later, after the son grows up! (As for why Will Ferrell’s real-life character suddenly decided he wanted to make everything neat and perfect when his son was born, they didn’t say.) And the Master Builders! At first I had no clue what on earth they were doing and how they were pulling together complicated structures out of nowhere, then I got the hang of it.
I sat through this entire movie with a grin on my face. I’m going to buy my kids a ton of Lego in future.
And yes, I liked it better than Frozen.