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Executive summary: Bloody AWESOME! “The Lego Movie” hands down makes the pantheon of the best three animated films I have ever seen. And I only write that because there must always be at least three, right? It is AWESOME! If I could, I would sit down right away and analyse and cherish every single frame until the DVD player is up in flames. There is such an abundance of genius packed in those 90-something fast-paced minutes that for a decade film schools will be able to analyse the cultural and pop-cultural references, social commentary, corporate strategy of self-aggrandising through self-humiliation, the utilization of sheer madness for the benefit of entertainment and enlightenment. This analysis will be done in the same seminar that will cover the false mirrors in “Marienbad” and neither students nor teachers will flinch. It’s where it belongs!

But let’s elaborate, or better: enumerate… the piece of resistance as dramatic centerpiece; a stunningly great terrible feelgood pop song as the mantra of a world of slaves; the positioning of Michelangelo next to Michael Angelo in the seating order of heroes; propaganda posters that give those from “They Live!” a run for their money (“What part of NO do you not understand?”; Morgan Freeman spoofing Morgan Freeman; Batman being finally exposed as the jerk he has always been; The Causes and Consequences of Stealing a Hyperdrive from Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon; Good Cop / Bad Cop played out properly for once; Vitruvius ironically fighting against (!) architectural conformity; Vitruvius’ ghost descending on a shoestring budget (hahaha… sorry… I tried hard not to write that!); ships and spaceships heading off with a very special-effect-y “pffffrrr” sound; the true nature of micromanagers; Westworld and Futureworld finally glued together…

But who the hell watches a Lego movie??? Here is evidence of the relevance of movie critics: I would never have gone to see it had there not been an astonishing wave of affection voiced in the early reviews. I would also have overlooked the fact that the film was made by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the guys responsible for the already crazy-in-a-good-way “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs”. Is this a second pair of evil geniuses in the making, a new generation of Parker/Stone minus the swearing?

I know that in retrospect, there are all kinds of reasons for allowing them to make a Lego film that mostly promotes Lego sets that are probably not even for sale anymore, that also is rather clear about declaring anybody sticking to the construction instructions in the Lego boxes to be an evil ass and enemy of mankind, to base 95 per cent of the film on people or events no kid under 12 (or 40…) has ever heard of, and to smack those Lego franchises that apparently threatened with lawsuits were they included in the film with a cheeky “and there are others, but forget about them”. This density of considerations sounds genius from today’s point-of-view, but I am rather sure that somebody called security when it was pitched in a Hollywood (or Copenhagen?) board room for the first time.

The result, however, is this: A film packed with all the things a middle-aged audience loves profoundly, because they loved it when they were young. A film Packed with visually stunning solutions to the challenge of making a “Lego” movie. A film that blows away the kids’ brains with dynamics and colour and just enough mindless fun that they will not even realise or bother that they are missing most of the film’s greatness. A film that so perfectly recreates the feeling of what it is like to be a kid and create a whole universe out of nothing, or Lego bricks, or used band aids…

There is a twist in the last third of the film that I did not see coming, and that – after a moment of serious skepticism – think is the final touch of genius in that it adds a layer of truthfulness and credulity to it all that turns out to be utterly heartbreaking. Will Ferrell’s President Business aka The Man Upstairs plays a key role in this, and I mention this because it is the first time ever that Will Ferrell has not annoyed me out of a film. All the voice cast is splendid, actually, with honourable mention to Elizabeth Banks as WyldStyle (“WyldStyle? Are you a DJ?”), Will Arnett as Batman (“I only build with black stones. Sometimes very dark grey.”) and Charlie Day as Spaceman (“SPACESHIP!”).

As it should be, the film’s final scene is ambiguous, it opens a path towards love and harmony, and injects the possibility of utter, multi-coloured terror. At least if you’re a boy with a little sister…

Another great opportunity to indulge in the pleasure of a Slate Spoiler Special!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_lego_movie/

One Comment

  1. Great stuff Thomas. Agreed, I loved this thing. What a wonderful surprise, and an early contender for my Biggest Surprises of the year.


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