This movie is awesome, Chris Pratt is awesome, the animation is awesome. It is self-reflective, self-deprecating, hilarious, and insightful. Given that Chris Lord and Christopher Miller have written and directed the kid flick Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the adult-humor-related 21/22 Jump Street, it’s not surprising that this allows adults to enjoy this film that is nostalgic, LEGO-related, and peppered with delightful dialogue and voice-acting by some of today’s biggest stars. But this is really two movies within one film, two levels of brilliance.
First, there’s the obvious epic story about Emmet (Pratt) who finds himself in position to fulfill a prophecy handed down by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), battling against the evil forces of Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Thankfully, Emmet is joined by Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Metal Beard (Will Offerman), Benny (Charlie Day), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), and a host of genre LEGOs from the vault. This is exciting, funny, and clever in a way that spoofs several legendary stories (like Star Wars…)
Emmet is the antithesis of what a leader looks like when we meet him, but he has an imagination. Emmet is naive, law (corrupted law) following, cowardly, and clumsy. But he has imagination. He doesn’t know anything about how things work, but he loves life, loves everyone (he even knows all of the names of the cat lady’s cats), and believes everyone is special. We see different worlds from generations of LEGOs, and we see a world where our LEGOs come alive. It is all fun, all awesome.
Second, there’s a story about the way that we deal with the rules of life. When we suddenly find ourselves ripped into the real world where “The Man Upstairs”/Lord Business is really a father who doesn’t understand that LEGOs are for playing with, that his son has an imagination and that it is good, we go… whoa. All of the entertainment value in the first three quarters of the film now has an emotional sucker punch.
This film is for all of the kids who were only allowed to play with LEGO sets if they used the instructions.
This film is for all of the people who were taught to only color within the lines.
This film is for all of the parents who measure their children’s value based on their ability to follow instructions, and for adults who assemble LEGO sets and then put them on the shelf not to be touched.
Ultimately, this film is about the Law (there are pieces that will not be touched; the LEGOs should only be used when the instructions are followed) versus Grace. Grace says that creativity should be valued, that things should be created in community, that there’s more than one way to build or solve a problem. Grace says relationships are more valuable than checkpoints or to-do lists, that everyone is special for what they bring to the relationship.
I rarely look forward to seeing a movie again, at least as quickly as from the theater to DVD. But I couldn’t wait to rewatch this, knowing how it ended, and considering in its complete form. I’ve come to one conclusion: everything is awesome.