THE LEGO MOVIE (2014) – Movie Review by Paul Laight
**PLEASE NOTE THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS – NOT THAT IT MATTERS AS THE PLOT IS LIFTED WHOLESALE FROM THE MATRIX ANYWAY**
Have you ever been urinated on from a great height with lemonade while simultaneously being crapped on by a chocolate log? No, nor have I. But in my mind that’s what watching the sweet sickly Diabetes: The Motion Picture AKA The Lego Movie (2014) felt like to me. Not for a while have I failed to enjoy a film so much yet admired the technical expertise and all-round skills of the makers involved.
Is it the film’s fault or mine? I am a jaded cynic but usually I can put that aside when reviewing family movies like this and analyse the story objectively but I can’t do it this time for some reason. I just couldn’t shrug off the feeling I was watching one long one-hundred-minute advert for Lego Co. Corp. PLC. I had the choice to either give in to the Matrix or resist it. I resisted and wish I hadn’t because after I felt like I’d been on a rollercoaster having just drank eighteen Oreo milkshakes. Thus, as an objective reviewer I have failed. I remember when product placement was subtle. Not anymore. This and the recent Google film The Internship (2013) have moved the goalposts; so much so there no one knows where the goal is anymore or the pitch.
The story involves Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary construction worker, who falls into a hole and finds the mystical Piece of Resistance. Various factions then pursue Emmet including the Master Builders led by Wizard Vitruvius (good) and — winging-it Will Ferrell — Lord Business (bad). The Piece of Resistance acts as the archetypal Macguffin as we are led through a cavalcade of Lego Worlds and Lego characters lifted wholesale from popular culture including: Batman, Gandalf, Wonder Woman etc. Emmet is given a reasonable character arc as he moves from someone who always follows instructions to someone who can use his imagination and become the ‘Chosen One’ blah, blah, blah! Throw in a romantic subplot and you basically have The Matrix (1999) but in Lego form.
The film opens really well with a satirical dig at a homogenised society not too dissimilar to ours while the colourful sets, fast-paced action and imaginative set-pieces really drive the movie forward. But unlike the genius of Pixar I did not care for one moment who did what and what was going on. In fact, there was TOO MUCH going on and it was happening too fast to take on board. The most interesting character for me was Liam Neeson’s Bad Cop as he had some element of duality plus there’s some fine gags in there especially at the expense of Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight. But by the end I felt ill as it lays on a glaucomic message within its mildly intelligent but very obvious final act reveal.
The Lego Movie (2014) is basically Ketamine-for-Kids storytelling; capitalism at its most insidious. Vacuum-packed product placement wrapped beautifully in state-of-the-art animation and an overly-knowing and satirical script. The filmmakers deserve much credit for their genius in making a presentable bit of entertainment out of a soulless toy brick. These extended moving billboards are the movies of the future, made by uber-smart college geniuses with no life experience; incubated in a shiny, postmodern void with no heart, soul, nor humanity.
I remember Lego being the best creative brick type toy you could play with when growing up. Then as I got older and had a kid myself I recall screaming in agony as I trod on it barefoot, quickly followed by a performance of a hate-filled Native American swear-dance. Only then for my son to get bored with Lego when he discovered Xbox and it was consigned to the attic to gather dust. Now Lego is back puking all over the cinema with colours and sounds and a horrifically and deliberately repetitive song. No! Everything is not awesome. And I know the film is striving for satire on our conformist and capitalist times but it does it while conforming to the most horrific section of capitalism: namely advertising. The Lego Movie (2014) is Nazi-efficient filmmaking of the highest quality. The kids will love it. But you have a choice: to take the red or blue pill. I took the red pill. I wish I had just given in but there’s still resistance in my jaded mind. Damn you brain – damn you to hell!