: The LEGO Movie
When this movie came out last spring, I boycotted it. I had numerous reasons to dislike it without seeing it. I thought the idea was too artificial, a movie forced into being by a toy company. I’m huge fan of Legos — they were my favorite toy as a kid — but I abhor the little Lego people. (Back in my day, we didn’t have those. If you wanted people in your Lego town, you had to build them up from blocks!)
Despite those obstacles, I might have still seen the movie, but the trailer was awful: a bizarre mix of pop culture references and a plot about “the chosen one” seemingly ripped off from the Matrix and a few dozen other films. When the film became a huge hit, I stayed away out of spite. I didn’t want to encourage such cheapness.
Well, tonight the film debuted on HBO and out of curiosity, I watched it. It’s terrific. It opens with an ordinary Lego guy in a totalitarian society where everyone is supposed to follow the instructions. This is clearly a metaphor of those who build Legos via imagination and free will versus those who rigidly follow step-by-step instructions.
This society is pretty cool in some ways — the “rules” are often hilarious — but lame in others (the bad guy is the unimaginative and bizarrely named “President Business”). As the movie continued into a weird mishmash of popular culture — suddenly Batman and Superman and even Star Wars characters are in the movie — I was even more puzzled (and slightly revolted, if I must be honest).
At one point I had the wild idea that perhaps everything that seemed lame was actually part of a brilliant plan by the screenwriters and everything would actually make sense in the end. Of course, that was ridiculous and impossible.
Guess what? The ending of this is what did it for me. The bulk of the movie is a rather crazy high-speed adventure story of the ordinary guy being forced into the hero role… but while everything seems to be haphazard and crazy for the sake of craziness, everything is there for a reason. The ending actually does explain everything! It’s freaking genius. I’m in awe of this ending. All the nonsensical stuff in the middle is perfectly rational once you know what’s really going on. (And that reason really appealed to the child in me.)
And to top it off, there’s a great moral lesson in the story about being true to yourself, that everyone (even the most ordinary of us) is special, and there’s no wrong way to build — which is not only a great life lesson, but is particularly amazing when connected (Ha ha, see what I did there?) with Legos.
As a kid the thing I hated more than anything was when someone else tried to tell me the “right” way to build something with Legos. (I can remember dozens of times when adults would show me the “right” way to do something and I would pretend to listen and as soon as they left, I’d destroy what they did and redo it my way. That right there should tell you everything you need to know about me as a person.)
The whole point of Legos is that you can use your imagination and do whatever you want. Clearly these filmmakers understood that, and that I think that’s why they made this movie.
So the bottom line is that while the promotion of this film failed for me as it tried to look hip and cool and just came across as bizarre and confusing, it actually is an ingenious invention, and utterly worth your time. It’s a blast.