The Lego Movie is far funnier and far more edgy than a film based on a toy has any right to be.
From its outset, it’s determined to elevate itself beyond the genre of “children’s film.” It is, at the same time, an uproariously funny kids’ movie and a razor-sharp satire about our conformist culture and a celebration of the beauty in being different. While kids are sure to love it, The Lego Movie is perhaps even more likely to appeal to those whose Lego-building days are behind them.
For those understandably wary of a film based on a popular brand of children’s building blocks, this film is delightfully unafraid to tease itself. The film makes more than a few jokes about Lego’s cross-promotional sets like those for Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
It’s also more than a little bit subversive.
Our hero does not have special powers. He does not possess a special ring or cape. In fact, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is just another cog in the machine. He’s a construction worker with a regimented life. That is, until he’s told of a prophecy that names him The Special, the most important person in history, tasked with saving the Universe. It’s a lot to take in for a guy with clip-on hair and a painted-on vest. Emmet is assisted in his mission by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), an oracle named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), the oppressively cheery Unikitty (Alison Brie) and, begrudgingly, Batman (Will Arnett). Together, the ragtag team takes on the dictatorial President Business (Will Ferrell).
While the plot draws lovingly from The Matrix, The Lego Movie is nothing if not original. It’s also fall-out-of-your-seat funny and full of energy and wit. Writer/director team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have worked genius into the film and, true to the genre, some excellent lessons. For one, there is an open dialogue about creativity and teamwork. Is it better to follow the instructions or to build Lego worlds from your imagination? (In the end, the film finds merit in both approaches.) The film also places a premium on individuality and marching to the beat of one’s own drum. It’s a celebration of weirdos that I wish had been around when I was a kid.