Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bechtloff Movie Night: The Lego Movie (2014)

As with most of my reviews of movies still in the theaters I won't do a plot synopsis in order to keep spoilers to a bare minimum. So with that said, making legitimately good family entertainment is a remarkably hard thing to do. Anyone can entertain children, children are stupid after all, but making something that children enjoy that also entertains their wiser, more jaded parents is considerably harder. The Lego Movie succeeds brilliantly at that, managing to be not just a kid's movie but a genuinely charming and witty family film. The writing is clever, the humor is sharp while never being something a parent would have to worry about little ears hearing, and the voice acting is superb. I especially loved Will Arnett's douchey rendition of Batman. Seriously, in it's own tongue in cheek way it's almost Kevin Conroy good. All that is especially surprising given that this could have easily been a 90 minute toy commercial. Not only is it not that, but it's almost exactly the opposite of that.

You see, while this movie has a lot of subtle and not so subtle satire of various aspects of modern society, the thing it seemed to me to satirize the most is Lego itself. More specifically what Lego has become as a company and a toy line, mainly the fact that Lego doesn't seem to nurture and encourage creativity the way it once did and frankly any toy centered around building things should. I remember when I was a kid, Lego was first starting to get into specialized sets, but they were still very generic themes, Castle, Pirate, Space, etc. Sure when you bought a big Lego castle there were specific instructions on how to build the castle on the box, but there was also instructions on how to build a different castle, or two smaller castles, and there were a good amount of extra pieces, encouraging you to build different things. But once Lego started to get into the licensed properties game a lot of that encouraging of experimentation fell by the way side. I put together a Lego Superman set a while ago for kicks and found only one thing in the book to build and one little extra piece that might have simply been in the box as a mistake. Lego now seems to encourage simple instruction following over creativity.

And that's exactly what this movie criticizes. The bad guy who has taken over the world is obsessed with order and making everyone follow the instruction booklets and the rebel good guys are trying to return things to a more chaotic and creative time when you just built whatever you wanted. To me that's the most remarkable thing about this movie, it's not the toy commercial it easily could have been, it's both a fantastic family movie and actually criticizes the very company who's toys the movie ostensibly exists to sell.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting! I loved Lego as a kid, and I've been debating whether or not I want to see this, but I'm now more inclined.

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  2. Excellent review and to me it says it all. Really comes down to why Lego is best as a toy that is passed down father to kids, and on and on. The completed sets from books are never played with. They are overcomplicated. Luckily they live again when added to my vast pile of childhood lego.

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