This review contains full spoilers. Reader discretion is advised.
This review includes full spoilers. Proceed accordingly. For other movie reviews from me, click HERE:
Dusty: You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things, such as liking and subscribing to my blog. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone.
Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Writers: Phil Lord (screenplay by) Christopher Miller (screenplay by) Dan Hageman (story by)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett
Release Date: February 7, 2014 (United States)
Run time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
In the Lego universe, the wizard Vitruvius fails to protect a superweapon called the “Kragle”, a tube of Krazy Glue with the label partially rubbed out, from the evil Lord Business, but prophesies that a person called “The Special” will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle. Lord Business claims it false and kicks Vitruvius off a cliff.
8 1/2 years later in Bricksburg, construction worker Emmet Brickowski comes across Wyldstyle, a beautiful woman searching for something at Emmet’s construction site. Emmet falls into a pit and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences visions and passes out. He awakens in the custody of Bad Cop, Business’s lieutenant, with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back. Emmet learns of Business’s plans to freeze the world with the Kragle; the Piece of Resistance is the tube’s cap. Wyldstyle rescues Emmet, believing him to be the Special. They escape Bad Cop and travel to “The Old West” where they meet a blind Vitruvius. He and Wyldstyle are Master Builders, capable of building anything without instruction manuals, who oppose Business’s attempts to suppress their creativity. Though disappointed Emmet is not a Master Builder, they are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of “the Man Upstairs”.
Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with Batman‘s help and escape to Cloud Cuckoo Land where all the master builders are in hiding. The Master Builders are unimpressed with Emmet’s cowardliness and refuse to help him fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack and capture everyone except Emmet and his friends. Fellow Master Builder MetalBeard rescues Emmet from drowning and Emmet devises a plan to infiltrate Business’s headquarters and disarm the Kragle. The plan almost succeeds until Emmet and his friends are captured and imprisoned. Lord Business decapitates Vitruvius with a penny, throws the Piece of Resistance into an abyss, and sets his headquarters to self-destruct, leaving all present to die. Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy before he dies, but his spirit returns to tell Emmet it is his self-belief that makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet flings himself off the edge in the tower and saves his friends and the Master Builders. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight Business’s forces.
Emmet finds himself in the human world where the events of his life are being played out in a basement by a young boy, Finn, on his father’s Lego set. The father — “The Man Upstairs” — chastises his son for creating hodgepodges of different playsets and begins to permanently glue his perceived “perfect” creations together. Realizing the danger, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. In the human world, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and sees how he based the villainous Business on him. Through a speech by Emmet, Finn tells his father that he is very special and has the power to change everything. Finn’s father reconciles with his son, which plays out as Business reforming, capping the Kragle with the Piece of Resistance, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits as Wyldstyle and Emmet enter a relationship, with Batman’s blessing. As Finn’s younger sister joins in playing with the Lego sets, Duplo aliens arrive in the Lego universe and threaten destruction.
I enjoyed The Lego Movie a lot more than I expected. The animation is really well done and the music is fun and upbeat. Although the movie is presumably aimed at children, there are several scenes which made me laugh out loud. The highlight of the movie is its third act. The surprise transition from the Lego universe into the real world was executed well, it added gravity to the otherwise silly proceedings before and after, and the conversation between Finn and his father was subtly quite moving.
Lego is not a toy limited to a specific franchise or story and the movie really leans into that. The Lego universe depicted in the film combines many of the real world toy franchises in which Lego participates. This hodgepodge combination of robots, Star Wars, the Old West, pirates, Middle Earth, and DC characters actually pairs well with the broader story’s encouragement of creativity. Just as a young child might not follow the instructions when playing with specific Lego sets, the film also avoids following the instructions, mixing and matching these worlds in unlikely ways. The plot perfectly captures and displays the fun of childhood toy anarchy in a way that adult collector types might have forgotten.
The plot of the film is a standard issue “hero’s journey,” leaning heavily on The Matrix in particular for inspiration. However, the movie humorously tells the tale with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. The film’s hero, voiced by Chris Pratt, never really stops being dimwitted. Instead, he learns to rely upon an innate childish wisdom. A familiar story subplot for this genre involves waking up the NPC types in the universe. Unlike The Matrix, though, that is less complicated here in the Lego universe. There is no sack of goo nor a cable plugged into anyone’s head. Instead, they are awakened from their routines and instruction-following via a simple announcement from Lucy on a TV screen. Most of the movie’s story focuses on the master-builder characters, but in the end, victory’s best chance arises when the non-Special Lego folks get involved and contribute their own individual brands of ingenuity and chaos, too.
The journey within the story gives Lego a reason to jump from playset backdrop to playset backdrop, and to continue introducing increasingly unlikely Lego character pairings. For most of the movie, the lesson Emmet and his friends learn is that creativity and the unexpected is their key to success against their villain, Lord Business. This lesson lands home with an emotional punch when we get to the third act.
In said third act, the movie reveals the surprise twist – namely that a real boy, Finn, is directing the action of the plot. The audience discovers as the movie transitions out of the Lego universe, into the real one, that they have unknowingly been watching Finn play with Legos the entire time. This creates a sense for the viewer that we have been playing with him, which is heart-stirring, because who doesn’t enjoy that? As the real world action goes on, we learn the larger context of Finn’s story. His father wants to glue the vast Lego collection together so that it can no longer be played with. The dad has forgotten his own childlike sense of playful adventure and that lack is impairing him from forging a connection with Finn. As a result, the villain of the movie – Lord Business – is actually a not-at-all subtle stand-in for Finn’s father. The Kraggle weapon of Lord Business is actually his dad’s KrazyGlue. The Resistance Piece is the cap to seal the crazy glue container.
The movie ends with a merging of the two stories. Emmet, who is in the real world outside the Lego City, is returned covertly by Finn into the Lego universe. As Finn’s dad marvels at the impressive changes Finn has made to his city, we see his heart softening. Emmet decides to find and talk to Lord Business after returning to the Lego universe. Emmet’s conversation with Lord Business mirrors a conversation occurring simultaneously in the real world between Finn and his dad. The father is so impressed by the creative redesigns that his son has done to his Lego city, and so wounded by the fact that Finn has modeled the Lego villain after himself, that he agrees to put away the Krazy Glue and let the kid play. At the same time within the Lego universe, Lord Business relents from his plans as well. The merged story resolution, featuring the reconciliation a father and son as told from two perspectives was moving (and perhaps also a recommendation for play-based therapy for children.)
As this is a comedy aimed at kids, and as the film’s theme centers on the idea that playful chaos is good, the movie ends on a lighter and more humorous note. Now that Finn is allowed to play with the Legos, so too is his much younger sister. Within the Lego universe, this change is reflected in the story’s conclusion with the arrival of aliens. One of the aliens, sounding like a very small girl, tells the Lego residents that she is from the planet Duplo and that she is bringing destruction. This ending is fun because it puts the shoe on the other foot and sets the stage for another Lego adventure. Now Finn will have to watch his own creations be changed and destroyed by chaotic play of his little sister and he will have to learn to be okay with it, too. How will that be reflectd in Finn’s Lego universe?
You’ll have to take my word on this. The glee present in this line delivery is probably the funniest moment in the movie.
Shaq: Y’all ready for this?
Shaq: Oh no! They were ready for that.
Robot: [At the Octan loading bay] Who are you here to see?
Batman: I’m here to see… your butt!
Robot: Is that a last name Butt, first name Your…?
I definitely recommend this movie. It is funny, poignant, the animation is great, the cast is star-studded… well, you might say that everything is awesome.