The Lego Movie Review: Twelve thumbs up!

 

We are LEGO nerds. My children asked almost exclusively for Lego sets for Christmas.  We were one of those hordes of the insane who braved the opening of Salt Lake's first Lego store a few months ago just to step inside the magical place.  However, I was not looking forward to the upcoming movie.  I just wasn't hip to wasting two hours of my life watching what the previews made me think was going to be about on par with TV cartoons. What we do for our kids, right?
But how could I think that Lego would disappoint? I was so wrong in my expectations of this film.  It is funny, fast-paced, and surprisingly touching and thought-provoking. Even watching it in 3D, which I usually hate, didn't bother me because I was having so much fun.
I adore great comedy, and have been sadly disappointed by the lack of comedic fare from the film industry lately (since apparently throwing together every form of expletive, scatalogical gag and sexual innuendo known to existence is enough to leave audiences in stitches).  Can you imagine my shock in finding myself laughing out loud more in this 'kids' movie' than I have in a very long time at any show? Pop culture references, sight gags, satire and just outright clever writing make this a great time from the minute the film starts in Emmet's apartment decorated with "Popular Band" posters, listening to the radio station that plays only the most popular song over and over again all day long.

Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt) is an everyman character who, through happenstance, is mistaken as a MasterBuilder and recruited to save the world from the evil Lord Business.  How is he recruited? By a pretty girl, of course.   Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) is not only mysterious, dangerous and beautiful, but she is the first person to treat Emmet like he's worth noticing (until she doesn't - of course.)Emmet's journey of self discovery is silly, fraught with difficulty, but also quite touching.  He tries so hard to be perfect, and when he finds that none of that has helped him grow, that he doesn't know anything about himself beyond that he tries to be what everyone else wants, his struggle and heartache are so relatable. The film does an excellent job of connecting the characters to the audience - making their plight matter.  Yet this doesn't become a commentary on NOT obeying the rules.  It is decidedly anti-establishment, but the group of rule-breakers, the MasterBuilders who can ONLY do things their own way don't fare well in the film's treatment either.  In the end, balance is key.  Under the hilarious one-liners (Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, is our favorite) and bright animation, the lego movie delves quite deep, with subplots of romance, betrayal, self-worth, social constructs... 

But the true genius of the film, and I'm going to be careful not to spoil it, comes in recognizing that parents are the ones taking their kids to this movie.  I'm sitting there, enjoying and engaged in the story, but also doing that parenty-thing of deconstructing and liking the lessons being taught to my kids, who are eating it up, when suddenly there is a twist in the plot - an enormous game changer that re-focuses the film on the parents. And I admit, I got teary.  Don't judge me.  Just when you thought the movie was about self-worth and creativity, you suddenly realize it's about childhood and family and the beauty of familial connections. Whoa - didn't even see it coming! 
I'm not a fan of soapbox movies.  Especially ones targeted at kids. But the primary power of storytelling is to teach lessons.  The Lego Movie is filled with social commentary throughout the comedic gags, but the lessons taught to kids and parents alike aren't at all soapboxy or obnoxious.  They're done so well that I have to add my two thumbs up to all five of my kids' two thumbs up each (which was pretty predictable on their part).  This is one of those few kids' movies that parents can go see and ENJOY with their kids.  Mine tell everyone that "my mom was laughing louder than anyone else in the whole theater."  I'm  planning on taking my husband, who wasn't able to go with us, and see it again - just us adults! 

Be warned though - it sticks with you.  We quote and giggle over movie lines incessantly now. And though I thought that nothing would ever blow "Let it Go," out of our home's 24 hour a day repertoire, the catchy and satirical "Everything is Awesome," will likely be in my head permanently.  Great, just when I was disciplining myself out of my overuse of the word "awesome." 

Rated PG for mild action and rude humor. (here's a breakdown, if you're interested, but in my memory, they say 'dang', 'gosh' and 'butt' maybe once, and batman throws his batarang. There is some shooting of lego darts, and one extremely mild sexual innuendo)
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