Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"The Lego Movie": Everything Is Awesome!

Now Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

The Lego Movie is a fantastic film.  It is smart, funny, surprisingly poignant, and just damn fun in the way it’s animated.  It’s a movie that should by all rights be just a cynical cash-grab by Warner Brothers Studios and the Lego Corporation, but instead, this film goes off the rails in a subversive way addressing the conflict between rigidity and creativity in both surface-level and meta-critical ways.  This is a powerful message and reaches beyond itself and becomes about how we as a people view our own popular culture and the treasured memories of our childhoods.  And I REAAAAAAALLY want to tell you all why.  Unfortunately, much like the issue with last week’s review of Non-Stop, going into a full analysis of the film would be telling too much, and I want everyone who sees this movie to get the full benefit of the experience.  So I’m going to touch a bit on some of the more superficial elements of the film, and hopefully that will get you to watch it if you haven’t already.  But when you get to the film’s final scenes, think back on this paragraph, which ends with the words “I told you so!”

Emmet is a Lego person living in the orderly Lego City.  He follows the instructions every day, and goes to his job like everyone else, listens to the same music everyone else does, and is an all-around excessively average guy.  But then, destiny sweeps Emmet up into a league of renegade Master Builders, who use their creativity to take on the overlord of the realms of Lego, President Business.  Business wants to bring eternal order to the world through the use of a MacGuffin known as the Kragle, and Emmet is the Special, the only person who can stop him.  If this sounds like the overly-done “chosen one” narrative you’ve heard a million times before, well, yeah, you’re right.  But this film is well aware of that and plays it for laughs, using a tongue-in-cheek sensibility to its storytelling that contributes to much of the film’s humor.  Along the way, Emmet will encounter many awesome characters, including a hardcore girl who’s more complex than she first appears, an eternally happy kitty with a unicorn horn, a spaceship-crazed astronaut from an 80s playset, and, of course, the goddamn Batman in what is perhaps the greatest parody of the Dark Knight’s persona ever put to film.  The dialogue these characters have is both symbolic and comedy gold, and the frenetic pace the film moves at is fantastic.

And that pace is accentuated by the brilliant use of animation that purposely looks like real Legos in motion.  Though the film is clearly computer-generated, the art style of the film makes everything look like Legos, including people, vehicles that can transform at will, water, fire, lasers, smoke, you name it.  The jerky animation of the characters feels like a stop-motion film of days long gone, and this only adds to the comedic timing that goes with their exaggerated movements.  It’s a gorgeous movie to watch, and there’s nothing else that looks like it, including the animated specials Lego’s in-house studio produces.

Alas, this is where the review must end if I’m to restrain myself from giving away the movie’s biggest surprises.  I obviously adore this film, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.  It’s hilarious and fun, and when you break through the surface there’s some surprisingly deep commentary to go with the jokes and slapstick action.  This is a must-see.

Do you have fond memories of playing with Legos?  Or perhaps those memories aren’t so far removed from the present.  Let me know in the comments below!

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