Desconstructing the Purpose of the LEGO Movie, A Review

20 Feb

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

The_Lego_Movie_poster*Spoiler Alert

Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) certainly know their LEGO product; they philosophically understand what playing with these bricks is all about. But when it comes to cobbling together a well-meaning tale, the time wasted to get to the point is long. People watching The LEGO Movie may need a reality check later. They may wonder what goes on with their toys when no one is around.

If this movie is beginning to sound like Toy Story then maybe that’s this movie’s greatest secret let out. There is another potential reference, but do audiences really need another never-ending story? At least this product is a decent watch. Just where this film succeeds is with the final act when all the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together. However, the rest is a different entity altogether.

This movie’s main hero, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), is a simple worker on a hero’s journey and that adventure is not as epic as it could be. When he is supposed to be the chosen one – a master brick builder – his ideas are panned as ludicrous. Maybe his future is not so bright. Lord Business (Will Ferrell) is out to rebuild the LEGO world in his own image for the worst, and the growing resistance movement thinks Emmett will save the day. However, this basic construction worker is not up to the challenge yet.

First, he has to learn how to use his imagination. In the greatest mono myth tradition, the tale stops short of coming full circle. Far too much material is crammed for anyone to take in. This movie does not know if it should keep its emphasis on Emmet’s story or wow audiences with every single LEGO construction set released to date.

Lego-Poster-Elizabeth-BanksThe big problem is that the film is trying to appease more than its intended target audience. From its in-jokes to pop culture references, viewers would have to wait for a video release to use a pause button to identify all the nuances missed. The early narrative does not come through as exciting. Not even the brewing romance between Emmet and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) is charming. The obliviousness of how these two feel for each other is drawn out.

Despite all this extra luggage being put on top of the film, a good story does manage to assert itself. Instead of going by the rules, imagination is encouraged so innovation can emerge.

And with the help of Hollywood, sell more product. Honestly, the LEGO company is doing fine on its own; their legions of fans, young and old, will continue to buy brick sets to modify into the weird and exotic.

But for some long time builders who love stop motion videos (CGI or not), the early fan films and computer animated efforts have more charm than this movie can ever create. Travelers Tale’s early efforts in their LEGO inspired games (namely their first Star Wars release) are fun to watch but somehow, over time, a certain whimsical Charlie Chaplin-esque flavor is lost. When producers realize they can expand the concept to comic book heroes and other movie tie-ins, the expansion of more products is not what’s needed. When the minifigs started talking, these fan films, professionally made or not, did not always change for the better.

Although the spirit of LEGO’s legacy is present in the movie, the commercialization of what these toys mean to some fans is just killing the joy. Lets just hope no one is piling up the gold bricks to create their own Fort Knox.

3 Bricks out of 5

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