The Lego Movie is not something that would normally garner my attention. It was only on the advice of a friend with highly evolved and discerning tastes, plus the fact that it was the only film showing at the time, that I ended up parked in the theater for 2 trippy hours.
Anti-establishment types will appreciate the movie’s theme of conformity and status quo versus individuality and creativity. The main character, Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt, lives quite literally by the book. In his world, there is one television show, comprised of one catch phrase, reminiscent of Time Bandit’s “I’d buy that for a dollar!” There is one song on the radio, the annoyingly catchy “Everything is Awesome.” I actually started to enjoy the song, which made sense when I discovered Mark Mothersbaugh had his hand in the recording. He was always able to capture the irony of excessive cheerfulness.
Emmet’s mundane life is turned upside-down by a sudden twist of fate, and he discovers whole other worlds full of pirates and cowboys. And Shaq. And Batman. Along with Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), he must battle Lord Business (Will Farrell) and Liam Neeson’s face-changing Good Cop/Bad Cop (hints of the mayor from Nightmare before Christmas). The ending is pretty Deus ex Machina, but it’s impressive that the filmakers managed to make us really care about the fate of little plastic figures.
I was disappointed when I realized that the movie was computer animated and not stop-motion animation. Because half of my time was spent thinking, “Lego has cobwebs?” “Lego has fire?” “How did they build a medieval torture chamber out of Legos?” I wondered if they were able to build this parallel universe using only existing pieces or if they had to create imaginary pieces. Lego has answered that question by marketing new box sets with the movie characters and their unusual Lego creations.
The humor is based primarily on G-rated South Park-type gags. Kids in the audience laughed, “He said butt!” while stoners guffawed at the goofy Lego fire. Observant audience members will notice that instead of running, the horses hop as if moved by an unseen child’s hand, and the boat goes, “Brrrrrr, brrrrrrr. Rrrrrrrr.” The world of Cloud Kookyland is a mindbending trip unto itself. So pack up some edibles, jump on your double-decker couch and prepare to be surprised.