Maybe what’s so wonderful about The Lego Movie is that it’s not terrible. Because basing an entire movie on an interlocking plastic toy doesn’t sound all that promising, although of course I am looking forward to that upcoming musical about making rubber band bracelets.
But The Lego Movie is smart and irreverent even if, just like the toddlers who enjoy playing with Legos, after awhile it can gave you a headache. The characters are basically little cylinders with not very expressive faces and black plastic hair, similar to John Travolta on the Oscars. The plot involves a little construction worker cylinder who learns to stop following instructions, so he can improvise and save the Lego-world from destruction.
The only problem I have with the movie’s message is that it’s tucked inside a feature-length TV commercial. It’s a movie that keeps telling everyone to use their imaginations, as long as this involves buying as many Legos as possible. It’s kind of like Wall-e, which was a shiny blockbuster Disney product which kept promoting the wonders of nature.
I also get nervous whenever movies get insanely nostalgic about Boomer-era tchotkes. The Toy Story trilogy was pretty much a tearful tribute to everything aging white guys liked to play with, and The Lego Movie showcases plenty of father-and-son bonding over Star Wars and Batman collectibles. Maybe I’m just being crabby, but when my mind wandered I started to picture August:Osage County filmed entirely on an Etch-A-Sketch.
I also kept thinking about Frozen, which, while it was a corporate mega-hit, felt warmer and less relentless. If Frozen is a souped-up Broadway fairy tale, then The Lego Movie is a snarky self-help video game. Plus, as with so many Hollywood films, responsible parents need to warn their children about putting the cast in their mouths.
The Lego Movie completely eliminates the line between entertainment and merchandising. I think it was produced by Movies’R’Us, if you ask me.