As you might expect (at least, if you've been following along for any length of time), The Lego Movie has been a big deal in this house for... well, a while. I don't, now, remember when my kids first heard about it, but there's been growing excitement about it much in the way of the excitement around Star Wars back in the 90s when Lucas announced that he was going to make the prequels. It's an odd thing, though, since our house has been full of Lego movies for more than a decade, back when the first Bionicle movie came out. Of course, those old Bionicle movies aren't quite the same as the ones that came after the Lego Star Wars video game, which, in many ways, inspired this whole trend in Lego movies. Which is not to say that that is what inspired "brickfilms," because the first known brickfilm was made in the 70s, but it was after Lego Star Wars that the concept really took off. Needless to say, we own a vast assortment of Lego movies and shorts.
Yes, this will be full of spoilers.
First, let me just say, the movie is good. It's a lot of fun and a lot of funny. For pure enjoyment, The Lego Movie did its job. I laughed a lot and so did my kids. The song, "Everything Is Awesome," is ongoing in my house, now. The actors did a great job with the voices, especially Will Arnett as Batman and Charlie Day as Benny. The animations was great and is full of more details than you can actually while sitting in the theater. Since this is a movie that we will almost certainly buy, I'm looking forward to being able to pause it in order to look for all of the things I missed and read the numerous background signs that whiz past in all of the action.
The issue I have with the movie is the story. Or its lack to effectively establish one story.
Most of the movie revolves around the story of Emmet Brickowoski, a generic Lego minifigure. He is so generic, in fact, as to be unrememberable. He is devastated to learn that when he went missing no one really noticed that he was gone. He wasn't special in any way. He had nothing that set him apart in any way. Nothing that made people say, "Oh, yeah, that guy!" Which is why he found the idea of being "the special" so appealing. Once he realized that he wasn't, that is.
The problem was that Emmet only knew how to follow the rules and didn't know how to do anything without his instruction book. Because he has become the subject of the prophecy, they need to teach him how to be "the special," which really doesn't go well. He has no imagination and is unable to come up with anything beyond his "bunk couch" idea. Eventually, though, he does begin show some capacity to lead and, just as he is beginning to get into his role as "the special," his mentor is killed and reveals that there never really was a prophecy: He just made it up. Before dying, though, he tells Emmet that all he needs to do to be special is to decide to be special. Basically, he can do it if he just believes in himself.
That's fine as the message of a movie. I mean, it's a pretty common message for movies. "All you need to do to succeed is to believe in yourself." You can't be special if you don't think you are. Personal feelings about that message aside, Emmet doesn't fall for it. He's devastated to learn that there is no "special" and that he's not it. He does make the move, though, to save his friends, specifically Wyldstyle, and sacrifices himself to the void to free them.
And ends up in the real world. Our world. Where the movie and the message change and, really, completely undermine the original message.
Once we get out into the real world we find that the actual conflict is between a boy and his father. The father believes in doing everything by the instructions, and the boy wants to build his own things. The father's Lego sets are off limits to his son, which is the issue, as we come to find out. While his father was at work, the boy has "wrecked" his father's stuff by rebuilding the rather miraculous sets into the story we've been watching. The conflict is about the rigidity of the father and whether the boy should be allowed to play with his father's toys.
Very little of the movie dealt with what was actually the ultimate story and conflict (and the one that my children resonated with, by the way), but it is the point of the movie. And I will leave the outcome of that unspoiled.
However, in dealing with that conflict, the father dismisses Emmet as "just a construction worker." A nobody. Which reveals to us why the character is so not special. However, the son responds, "No, Dad, he's the hero." Which reveals to us that Emmet actually cannot be special just because he decides to, just because he believes in himself. He is special because he was chosen to be special by the son. And that is the issue I have with the movie. It sets up this whole story about being special and believing in yourself and how that's all you really need but, then, says, "Never mind. You have to be chosen." Of course, they don't come out and say that, but, still, it's there.
So, from a story-telling perspective, the movie has some structural flaws. Despite that, though, as I said, it's very enjoyable, and, really, most people won't notice what I'm talking about anyway or feel any conflict from it. And, well, there's a great Lego Star Wars cameo. Being a Warner Bros. movie, the Marvel franchise was, unfortunately, left out. The movie was calling for some definite Hulk action.