As a kid, I never did warm up to the whole Lego thing. I didn’t get it: why build toys when you can get them ready-made? Lego bricks are hard, have sharp corners, and it takes a lot of pieces just to make a simple thing. (I am not talking Duplo here.) And they have a tendency to fall to pieces if you didn’t build whatever you’re building the right way or lock the pieces together properly. To me, the whole concept was just too close to jigsaw puzzles for comfort. And I hate jigsaw puzzles.
Fast forward 35 years or so. When I heard about The Lego Movie, I was unsurprisingly unmoved. It’s not entirely because I wasn’t enamored with Lego when I was young. Since the 70s, Lego frea—sorry, enthusiasts have been making “brickfilms” of varying quality and complexity using CG, stop motion, live action, and other types of animation. And what kind of story could they tack on to a film composed of moving Lego bricks? It would probably be nothing more than a glorified brickfilm, albeit with a bigger budget and better voice acting.
Man, I was so, so wrong.
Emmet is a happy citizen of Bricksburg. He knows and likes everybody; he follows all the instructions provided on how to live every moment of his life; his favorite song is everybody’s favorite song; his favorite TV show is, well, everybody’s favorite TV show. Emmet’s perfect world falls to pieces (somewhat literally, and pun is not intended) when he comes across a mysterious woman called Wyldstyle who is searching for something at the construction site where Emmet works. Emmet accidentally stumbles upon the object Wyldstyle is looking for and is immediately plunged into a world of Master Builders fighting to free the world from Lord Business who secretly controls the world by generating instruction manuals for everything and intends to end the Master Builders’ creative meddling once and for all by unleashing a deadly weapon known as the “Kragle.”
Doesn’t sound all that exciting? At the (very slight) risk of spoiling the movie, think of The Lego Movie as The Matrix, reimagined not reloaded. Same central concepts, just add Lego pieces and actors that are as sharp as they’re funny like Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, and Will Ferrell. Then add more Lego pieces,and more actors that are good at voice acting like Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Cobie Smulders, and top it all off with a unique animation style that makes it look like it was shot in stop motion using 15,080,330 Lego pieces (In actual fact, only 3,863,484 were used together with the aid of CG). So, put all that together, we have The Lego Movie, right? (Why does everything I say in this review sounds like a pun? Can’t be helped; sorry.)
The Lego Movie is more than the sum of its parts. (Again, Lego pun. ) In fact, the film is the first in recent memory to completely thwart my expectations of what it could or should be and leave me pleasantly confounded, hugely entertained, and even deeply moved. After the first viewing I found myself turning the movie over and over again in my mind, finding new meanings and significations in different parts of the film. And the best part about all this is it did not alienate my four-year-old. He is the reason why I watched the film three times in two days, and it unlocked a new energy in him: he has been intensely building several strange, incongruent Lego contraptions every day since.
The Lego Movie succeeds on just about every level you can think of. Franchise vehicle, product placement, marketing tie-in, high-concept satire, profound think piece, endless pop culture references, laugh-per-minute humor; it’s for kids and adults; it’s got something for everyone. Everything is awesome.
The movie is not in the Public Libraries yet, but here’s a list of related books we have to tide you and your young ones over in the meantime.