‘The Lego Movie’ surprises with comedic relief, important messages

The Lego Movie surprises with comedic relief, important messages

Jay Whang

Remember those Lego toys you played with when you were a kid? Well, somebody in Hollywood thought that they could make an hour and a half movie out of it, and sell it to younger audiences. Before seeing the film, I expected it to be one of those late-winter, award season movies based on random ideas with celebrity voices made just to get more money out of people’s wallets. But after seeing the official film adaptation of the Lego franchise, I was wrong. Despite its product-driven nature, “The Lego Movie” is surprisingly thoughtful, humorous and one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen so far this year.

The plot is a typical Campbellian hero’s journey story. Our main Lego hero, Emmett (voiced by Chris Pratt), a construction worker, is living a so-called “ordinary” life depending mostly on instruction manuals, singing “Everything is Awesome” all day with other people. After work one day, Emmett sees a female Lego named Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) looking for a relic called a Piece of Resistance. According to the wizard Vitruvitus (voiced by Morgan Freeman), the one who finds the relic will become a prophesied hero named “Special,” who is also a master builder and can save the dystopian world from evil Lord Business (voiced by Will Farrell).

After touching the Piece of Resistance, Emmett passes out, and the Bad Cop, Lord Business’s right-hand man, interrogates him about its find. There he learns that everyone in his home world doesn’t know him and never cared about his existence. The adventure kicks in when Wyldstyle saves him and crosses the ultimate threshold of his dimension.

For an animated film that’s not produced by Pixar, this is very well-written, even as a typical adventure story. What makes the movie stands out is its humor; it makes both kids and their parents laugh. These jokes and the characters’ dialogues were all very self-referential, making pop culture jokes without being cheesy, unlike those DVD animated films stacked on Target shelves. And the pop culture references are understandable, considering how the Lego company owns many product licenses.

Not only that, but much like Hasbro’s “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” I never expected this feature length film to end up having the most sincere message. The message is all about being yourself and trusting oneself, but it is done in a very refreshing way. In fact, the movie itself is so unpredictable that I never expected this usual anvil to get dropped in a new way.

Lastly, the animation is gorgeous. At first, I thought it was all done in stop-motion, but I learned that the movie was completely CGI. This makes the movie feels like a younger kid playing with his Lego toys, and people are always amused by the imagination of children.

Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller made a film that successfully captures our feelings when we are making something extraordinary out of Lego blocks. They wanted to make a postmodern Derrida-esque film that’s a synthesis of corporation and anti-corporation themes, and I believe that this movie certainly achieved its goal and exceeded my expectations.

By Jay Whang

Have you seen The Lego Movie? What did you think of it?