May 15, 2019
‘The LEGO Movie:’ Everything Is Indeed Effing Awesome
Do you possess a child? You should take it to see The LEGO Movie. Are you without children? Then you should go see The LEGO Movie anyway, and you will like it so much you will not care that there are one thousand crying snuffling children in the theater with you.
Is this movie going to win the Golden Globe or Tony or Pulitzer or whatever? Naw mang, but it isn’t supposed to. It’s a 100-minute movie about a popular child’s toy. Despite that, it doesn’t end up feeling like a movie-length ad, mostly because of how it is awesome.
Before we commence anything more substantive than telling you it is great, allow us first to admit that there is a review over at Roger Ebert’s website (RIP Roger) that has the best one-liner that will be written about this film, period, and we will be mad forever more that we did not think of it first.
Awesome as in imagine if “Toy Story” were spoofed by Mel Brooks after he ate magic mushrooms while reading George Orwell’s 1984.
That’s pretty much exactly right. Distressingly normal Emmet (voiced by Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt) is the boring standard LEGO construction guy, and sadly no one thinks he is awesome, because there is nothing particularly memorable about him. Sad. But of course he is actually “The Special,” the chosen LEGO dude who stumbles into a prophecy where only he can save the world. There’s a pretty girl, the fantastic Elizabeth Banks-voiced WyldStyle, (which is what we’re naming our first-born now, regardless of gender) who Emmet crushes out on immediately, but she has a dickish boyfriend, Will Arnett’s Batman.
Emmet is guided in his quest by Morgan Freeman, who voices a guru character that is Morpheus meets Obi-Wan Kenobi and is also blind, just for good measure. The ragtag band of would-be saviors of the LEGO universe is up against President Business (a delightfully evil and blustery Will Ferrell) and Business’s chief minion, Bad Cop (delightful Scottish burr courtesy of Liam Neeson.) UPDATE: your humble correspondent is dumb and cannot distinguish a Scottish burr from a Northern Irish brogue, as commenter ColinCovert points out below. The New York Times regrets the error.
Along the way, the movie lovingly spoofs The Matrix, Star Wars, Batman, Terminator 2, Clash of the Titans, and probably several more we didn’t catch the first time through, and that’s a large part of why the film doesn’t come across like a super-sized ad. There’s also a kid-empowering message at the heart of the film — don’t worry about conformity or compare yourself to other people, because you are, of course, awesome — that doesn’t feel like it is goading children into purchasing LEGOs to achieve happiness. Next, there’s the fact that so much of the film works on two levels — fun for kids because yay LEGOs! and hilarious for adults because hey wait was that really Billy Dee Williams? — and the latter doesn’t require you to want to play with LEGOs at all. Finally, the film never takes the product at the heart of it seriously, mocking the inscrutable LEGO instructions and limited physical range of LEGO people relentlessly.
If you’re not sold, go watch this faux behind the scenes video, which captures the spirit of the movie exactly.
Did we mention the theme song? You’re going to have the theme song stuck in your head until you die. Sorry, not sorry. Blame Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh for writing it, Tegan and Sara for singing it, and The Lonely Island dropping into the middle of it with a very kid-friendly rap about how everything is totally super awesome.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll look at all the children in the theater and think “thank god this movie is so good, because I would be so mad about being here otherwise.” Highly recommended.