Everything is Awesome
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
When it was first announced, The LEGO Movie was greeted with joy and a vast amount of trepidation. A movie centered around the beloved construction plastic pieces seemed to be basically the Warner Bros. equivalent of the negligible Cars franchise and in no way did that seem to be a compliment. But then you watch the movie and yes, basically everything is indeed awesome. The animation is beautiful and the physics of the LEGO figure movements is kept neatly intact. The writing is tremendously sharp and the film reveals itself to be one of the strongest indictments of corporate media and societal slumber I’ve ever seen. The voice acting is phenomenal and Morgan Freeman gets to play smartly around with the whole mentor role that he’s recently been stuck with. There’s a third act reveal that can certainly jarring be at first, but I quietly settle into it. And the humor, oh the humor is so, so great. The film basically has almost every single LEGO character in existence in the film and it toys with that variety perfectly.
The film follows Emmet, a normal figure who just basically goes from day to day, trying to fit in with everyone else and just be “one of the guys.” One day after work he runs into an enchanting female LEGO called Wyldstyle and suddenly he’s falling through a hole and he finds the Piece of Resistance. He touches it and before he know it, he’s on this great chase sequence before he falls through this proverbial window and into another world. Wyldstyle then reveals what the reality of the world is. Lord Business is completely obsessed with controlling the entire world and he will stop at absolutely nothing to ensure that his power is complete. To complete this horrible goal, he has a terrible plan to freeze the entire world with Kragle so he can keep everything just as he wants it. At first it’s extremely doubtful that Emmet would be able to fulfill the prophecy of being the Special, considering that he’s not a Master Builder. But the narrative unfolds on an incredibly delightful journey that allows him to discover who he truly is and the importance of being your own individual while working together as a team. The film builds and builds and builds towards a conclusion that in many ways seemed was going to be fairly straightforward and then the film twists a knot that was a bit jarring. The sheer amount of emotional resonance the film manages to grasp is so brilliant that that jarring twist seems far more forgivable in hindsight. It works not only because one doesn’t generally expect emotional catharsis from The LEGO Movie, it also cleverly subverts the general showdown at the end brilliantly and avoids a straight-up fight between Emmet and Lord Business. Not that there’s anything wrong with a showdown, it just wouldn’t work for these specific characters. Emmet’s a kind hero, not a badass warrior.
The LEGO Movie knows quite well that its vast array of characters and settings gives it a great power to be as visually gag-worthy as possible. Of course Emmet loves to pay a ton of money for overpriced coffee at $37 a pop (a great little jab at the new $4-5 era of coffee). But what works simply beyond clever little jabs here and there is how thoroughly the film and its creators understand the so-called geek world. The film is so full of references, it’s difficult, nay, near impossible to grab all of them on the first try. For example, basically anyone who knows anything about Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth saga knows that the entire thing is basically filmed in New Zealand. So to see dragons in a world called “Middle Zealand” is basically perfect. And my personal favorite is a slight spin on how Dumbledore and Gandalf are both embodiments of the wise mentor archetype (even though both of them aren’t far from perfect) with Vitruvius mispronouncing Professor Dumbledore’s name over and over again. The increasing irritation in Dumbledore’s voice as Gandalf remains calm is absolutely hilarious. And these are just three examples in a movie where there’s a gag literally every minute.
Ultimately I’m incredibly impressed with how this movie managed to take something so ubiquitous, vast, and scattered and create something coherent and clever out of it. The direction was fantastic throughout the film, with the camera moving about everywhere with incredible flourish. Each and every single frame is bursting with color and significant movement that gives each setting a feeling of being an authentic part of that world. The humor’s fantastic, nearly every piece of dialogue is sharp and crackles with energy, and the voice acting all around was phenomenal. Like the best of films directed at children, there’s plenty of material here for adults as well. As the credits cut away and the amazing “Everything is Awesome!” song from Canadian duo Tegan & Sara bursts out, you may walk out of the theater but the film’s chief message will remain with you for a long, long time. Anyone can be the Special, they just have to believe in themselves to get there – with a team, of course. Go watch this on repeat.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Michelangelo the architect and Michelangelo from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles standing side by side
+Green Lantern annoying the hell out of Superman
+Liam Neeson as Good/Bad Cop
+Batman and Wonder Woman’s “Dang It!”s
+Benny the Space Man
+The Millennium Falcon with the Star Wars crew and Batman leaving with them
+“I hope there’s still a good cop in me somewhere.”
+“We’re going to crash into the sun!”
“Yeah, but it’s going to look very cool.”
+“This is not how Batman dies!”
+“Today shall now be known as Freedom Friday… But on a Tuesday.”
+“Stay… positive……stay………ah, forget it! DIIIIIIIIIE!!!!!”
+“I only use black.. and sometimes dark shades of gray.”
+“Emmet you didn’t let me finish, because I died.”
+Heck, basically every piece of writing.
Title: The LEGO Movie
MPAA Rating: PG
Directed by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Produced by: Dan Lin, Roy Lee
Screenplay by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Story by: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Based On: Lego Construction Toys
Starring: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography: Pablo Plaisted
Editing: David Burrows, Chris McKay
Production Companies: Village Roadshow Pictures, Dune Entertainment, Lego System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Animal Logic, Warner Animation Group
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures, Roadshow Entertainment
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Dates: February 1, 2014 (Regency Village Theatre), February 6, 2014 (Denmark), February 7, 2014 (United States), April 3, 2014 (Australia)
Image Courtesy: Forbes