On paper, this movie shouldn't work. It is a PG animated movie about a child's toy. Sure it may appeal to the young ones, but how does this get a 95% rotten tomatoes score? How does it become the top movie of the weekend? How is it getting 'Toy Story' like numbers, without being a Pixar movie? Well my friends, the answer is in the song "Everything is Awesome." That pretty much answers all my questions, and if you haven't seen the Tegan and Sara music video, check it out. Then tell me you don't have the song stuck in your head.
Alas, you don't read reviews for the simple answers, like everything is awesome. So I will further break it down. We like an underdog, and Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is the archetypal loser. He lives alone, goes to work, follows orders, and says yes to everything his friends want to do. He doesn't realize his friends think of him as a blank slate, a nobody who is easily forgotten. It is often in such moments of despair that a hero is born, and throughout the movie this nobody proves he is somebody. Time and time again he proves his worth, and that it is ok to be part of the masses, and you don't have to be super to matter.
What hero's journey is complete without some companions? Our loser is accompanied on his quest by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnette), and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). Wyldstyle is the one who found Emmet, and admits to being jealous that she isn't the chosen one. She wants to be the one to save the world, and seems to have the ninja skills, along with building skills, to do it. It is Wyldstyle, who is the Sam to Emmet's Frodo, the Leia to Emmnet's Luke, the Spock to his Kirk. When the chips are down, it is Wyldstyle who believes in Emmet and helps him to believe in himself. Vitruvius is the wise elder who gives Emmet the pep talk to believe in himself. A mix of Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Yoda, Vitruvius predicts the down fall of the evil and helps our hero make the prophecy come true.
Regarding Batman's role in this, it is slightly dubious. For those who question the logic of putting him as a companion, remember he is the Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves". Oh wait, we aren't in Gotham. In the movie, Superman got pinched quickly, and it appears the Green Lantern turns into a Fan boy in Superman's presence, so those two super heroes weren't going on the hero journey. Stop questioning, and just embrace the quest and its companions. He's Batman and can do anything. Include singing the untitled self portrait Darkness song, which is awesome. Because everything is awesome!
There are more master builders who join our hero on his journey- a robot Pirate (Nick Offerman), a unicorn Kitty (Alison Brie), and 80s astronaut (Charlie Day). In another context, you have the makings of an awesome party, but this is a hero's journey so there is no deviation from the path. And their path is leading them into the lair of the villainous Lord Business (Will Ferrell). This is someone so dastardly he wipes Good Cop's face off (Liam Neeson). What kind of a monster does that? A monster who craves order, who wants instructions to be followed, and perfection achieved at any cost. Lord Business happens to also be a pretty good villain; he captures Superman, Gandalf, and Abe Lincoln. What other villain can claim that track record? Like all villains, it is Lord Business's plan to destroy the world. And it is up to our hero Emmet to save the day.
I will try and not spoil the ending for you all, per the request of the Lego movie commercial. Sufficed to say though, take a guess at who wins in the showdown of Lord Business versus Emmet. (spoilers!) No matter how much our hero is belittled, no matter how scared or frightened, good will triumph over evil. And that in a nutshell, is why the Lego Movie works. It takes us on a hero's journey, where we want to see the hero succeed and overcome obstacles, because it gives us hope. Hope that David will slay Goliath, hope that the underdog will triumph and good will overcome evil. We want to believe this, because all too often that is not the reality. In real life bad things happen to good people and bad people go unpunished. It is in magical places like Cloud cuckoo land where heroes like Emmet are born, heroes who rise above their lot in life and triumph. The formula is well worn: take a simple premise like a hero's quest for good to overcome evil. But to execute it as brilliantly as this movie did? It is little wonder it has Toy story numbers, and left this cynical viewer thinking everything really is awesome.
As Lisa pointed, 'The Lego Movie' is hugely entertaining, pretty much from start to finish, but let's talk about the Big Picture. What Big Picture Christopher, you ask me, this is a movie about tiny toys that kids leave on the floor that get embedded in my feet! I hate Legos! Calm it down… the Big Picture. 'Everything is Awesome' might be a catchy tune, but in this movie it represents bad pop music forced down our throats by a conglomerate controlled media. Yep. Or the hit sitcom in Legoland of 'Have you seen my pants?' A terrible show to be sure, but don't miss the message that lambastes the lack of creativity by a media controlled proletariat transforming us into mere puppets of our potential great selves. It is right there, plain as day. Lord Business basically tells the populace that he will destroy them if they don't conform, but then follows that up with the promise of free tacos which makes everybody forget, and thus happy. Freedom or Free Fast Food? This is what 'The Lego Movie' is asking us in the Big Picture. The movie is clever, funny, wildly creative, stays true to Lego to the bone but also asks some important question for those willing to look for them. Seriously.