Movie Review: The Lego Movie

Movie Review: The Lego Movie

Fun for parents and kids

By Mark HadleyWednesday 2 Apr 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Creative, sure, but whoever thought Lego was a toy with a message? Yet the box office conquering Lego Movie makes it clear that enforcing ‘one way’ is something smart parents and kids will always avoid.

The Lego Movie fun for parents and children alike says Mark HadleyLego has been dabbling in television series to sell its various product lines for years so it’s not surprising the Danish company has finally given the go-ahead for a major motion picture. Enter Emmett, a lowly construction worker voiced by Chris Pratt. But according to the prophetic Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) he’s actually ‘the Special’, a minifigure destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Business has gotten his hands on the doomsday weapon called The Kragle and is threatening to freeze all Lego characters for all time. But with the help of friends Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmett sets out to restore balance to his creative universe.

The Lego Movie has spent weeks at the top of the US box office, a true feat given that period included the Oscars. And it’s likely to repeat that success in Australia for a number of reasons. There’s the legacy of almost a hundred years of Lego, a real unifying factor for kids and parents alike. There’s also the excellent animation courtesy of Australia’s Animal Logic, as well as a non-stop string of ‘kidult’ jokes –

Batman: “To the Batmobile!”
[The bad guys shoot at the Batmobile, blowing it up]

Batman: “Dang it…”

Wonder Woman: “To the Invisible Jet!”
[The bad guys shoot at an empty space next to the Batmobile, causing an explosion]

Wonder Woman: “Dang it…”

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– but what’s interesting for a product placement film is the earnest message it delivers.

The Lego Movie labels a lack of creativity as the ultimate evil. It turns out the super-weapon Kragle is actually a tube of Krazy Glue with some of the letters rubbed off. President Business plans to use it to put an end to the constant mixing up of Lego sets – “All I’m asking for is total perfection!” Trust me, this is a laudable goal, especially if you’re a dad who’s been asked to rebuild the same Lego toy for the fifth time with half the pieces missing. But the twist in the tale comes when viewers realise the entire story is happening in the head of a ‘real world’ boy. His dad is upset with him for constantly disregarding the instructions and using his collections to build hodgepodge creations. As a father of three sons it made me take a mental step back and wonder whether a little more Lego chaos at home wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

If there’s an unhelpful inclusion, though, it’s the hero Emmett’s realization that the evil ‘President Business’ is based on the boy’s dad, who is also known as ‘The Man Up Stairs’. Once again we find a pseudonym for God being used in conjunction with restrictive rules and a determination to see pieces only used a certain way. When the dad has a change of heart it’s easy to believe that this is what the real ‘Man Up Stairs’ should also do. Emmett even comes to realise that the prophecy is made up; nothing has to be a certain way. But it’s a pity because Emmett’s battle to restore Lego’s freedom is based on a false premise: restrictions and happiness are not mutually exclusive. In fact rules – the sort that maintain Lego pieces should not go in power points, for instance – actually create the safe environment in which happiness thrives best.

The Lego Movie is one of those few children’s animations that offers as much fun for parents as it does kids. But as a Christian I’m a little disappointed the most God-like characters once again find themselves on the side of forced uniformity. Individualism continues to be the spirit of this age, but rejecting instructions for the sake of individual freedom is an unlikely road to happiness. Besides, have we forgotten Who made each and every one of those individuals? Now that’s creativity.

Rating: G
Distributor: Warner Bros
Release Date: April 3, 2014