August 24th, 2019

The Lego Movie ***1/2

Video Pick


I don’t like children’s movies.

But I have to tip my cap to the people who make them. Not only do they have to make entertaining movies, they have to make sure that their movies help their bosses sell merchandise, toys, and video games.

I have watched my best friend’s son grow up. I have witnessed him evolve from a toddler who was content to play with anything to a brand-conscious five-year-old who demands “Iron Man” toys, “Transformers” robots, and strange Japanese fighting cars from something called “Beyblade.”

I honestly don’t know whether I should be praising these corporations for their mastery of child psychology and forward-thinking marketing savvy. Or whether I should be condemning them for addicting America’s youth to brand name garbage before they are old enough to understand that they are being manipulated.

Either way, when I saw that there was a major motion picture coming out called “The Lego Movie,” I was a little turned off. That seemed shameless, even by children’s movie standards. What’s next? Are they going to make “The Gillette Fusion Ultra-Glide Movie”? Are they going to expect me to pay $10.50 to watch a two hour razor commercial?

I misjudged it. “The Lego Movie” is the wittiest, most inspired animated film I’ve seen in ages.

From the opening musical number – a joyful ode to everyday life set to the catchy pop song “Everything is Awesome” – “The Lego Movie” is non-stop fast-paced entertainment.

It tells the story of Emmet: a very average Lego guy. All he wants to do is have friends and fit in.

His world is turned upside down when he is kidnapped by an exciting young Lego woman named Wyldstyle (who is definitely not a DJ) and brought to the forbidden zone outside of the city walls.

Wyldstyle informs Emmet that he is the The Special: a uniquely gifted hero who possesses the power to defeat the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell).

The other heroes of the rebellion – including Wyldstyle’s boyfriend, Batman – are skeptical about Emmet’s powers. So Emmet has to find the confidence and courage to save the universe against all odds.

“The Lego Movie” is the second highest grossing film of 2014. And that’s because it appeals to kids and adults equally.

There is a lot of comedy that is aimed 100% at the parents in the audience. For example, there is an absurd scene where Han Solo and Lando Calrissian invite Batman aboard the Millennium Falcon to hunt for girls.

Before he goes, Batman turns to Wyldstyle and says: “If this relationship is going to work out between us, I need to feel free to party with a bunch of strangers whenever I feel like it…I will text you.” I doubt this is funny to a little kid. I laughed out loud.

The endings of children’s movies are almost always dumb and predictable. The conclusion of “The Lego Movie” is inspired and bold and kind of weird.

The funny thing is, the moral to the story is that everyone should play with Legos and that families will come together if fathers and sons play with Legos together. It is astoundingly shameless. But the message is presented in such a surprising way that I liked it, anyway.

I still don’t like children’s movies. But I sure like this one.

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