The Lego Movie

Art & Culture

There is nothing more obnoxious than product placement, so I approached this film with some concern, but am thrilled and surprised to say that this is an excellent piece of work which will appeal to adults and children, is funny, satirical, and – in a strange way – nothing to do with Lego at all.

It’s basically a spoof of superhero movies, done in Lego. Although not literally, of course. This is digital animation, which creates the illusion of bricks, not real bricks. Just so we’re clear.

The world we arrive in is a dystopia pretending to be a utopia. Everyone conforms; everyone does the same thing, with a happy face, and a complete absence of autonomy, creativity or real pleasure. It’s a Lego Brave New World. Emmet is a building worker (lots of building goes on in Lego world, natch), who tries to be a model citizen, and follow instructions – there are manuals for how to do everything – but still always feels as though he doesn’t fit in. Then his life changes.

He meets a young woman called Wyldstyle (a rebel with a cause), who tells him that he is the Chosen One, preordained to save the world from its overlord, President Business. Emmet is unconvinced but flattered, and goes along for the ride. And yes, you are meant to be reminded of The Matrix, Star Wars  and a zillion other movies. The thing is, though, Emmet doesn’t seem to have an intelligent or original bone in his body, or brain cell in his head. When he is presented to a gathering of heroes – Robin Hood, Abraham Lincoln, Michaelangelo (the painter AND the turtle) etc – they are not impressed. Matters are not helped by the omnipresent Batman, who is clearly several light years more heroic, resourceful and likely to save the universe – if only he didn’t have an ego the size of a large galaxy.

The above should hopefully give you an idea of what happens, but words cannot really convey two things. One is the fundamentally funny notion of a universe constructed of Lego. It undermines everything that superhero/sci fi movies trade on. Without any of the CGI crap which is supposed to impress us (and is simply so much eye candy), a story like this is intrinsically hilarious. And the second thing is that the whole attitude of the film makers is to subvert the hell out of these genres, in terms of idiotic characters, absurd situations, and clunky dialogue. When you throw in the absence of any acting skills (so like most superhero movies) the process of subversion is complete.

At half term and any other holidays, a film you take the children to should be a film you are happy to go to yourself and this is a film you can look forward to enjoying as much as (or even more than) any children you may have in tow.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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