5 reasons why The Lego Movie is awesome
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Batman, laser sharks, and spoiler cameos...
With a title like “The Lego Movie”, most potential audience members will probably have made up their minds one way or the other. The film itself shows that you can't judge a film by its title; unless you think it's going to be awesome, in which case you happen to be right. It seems that many people did expect it to be awesome, going by the film's box office. But really, The Lego Movie will appeal to anyone who likes creativity (which should, in theory, be anyone who's a fan of cinema). And here's why...
It's from the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a terrifically inventive ode to geeky enthusiasm (a scientist is hailed as a hero for making it rain cheeseburgers), with a goofy wit, stylish cinematography (or whatever the animated equivalent is), and one of the most oddly upbeat takes on the dystopian genre ever. The Lego Movie continues in this awesomely fun tradition, and even, fittingly, builds on it, resulting in a film that's even more overflowing with invention. It's Creativity With a Chance of Awesome Cameos.
It's about creativity
The words 'Leg Godt' mean 'play well' in Danish, and that's exactly what the filmmakers have done. They've obviously let their own imaginations go wild, resulting in one of the most abundantly creative films ever made, certainly on a visual level, along with the likes of Wreck-It Ralph, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Speed Racer, and Ultraviolet.
Lord Business' tower is guarded by, among other things, “Lasers...sharks...laser sharks!” In addition to being an homage to both Austin Powers and Dodgeball, this works as an illustration of the principle of awesome that awesome + awesome = even awesomer. This principle combines the idea propounded by both James Cameron and Michael Bay that “Less isn't more. More is more.”, and that of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
The Lego Movie as a whole works as a wonderful example of this; not only is it stuffed full of awesome cameos and references, not to mention delirious flights of invention, but this veritable maelstrom of creativity is harnessed, like a weather machine, to make it rain delicious cheeseburgers of thematic relevance about the relationship between order and creativity. Harnessed much more than effectively than that last metaphor, anyway.
It's about fun
Joss Whedon once said, “If it is not entertaining, it is not art.” In that case, The Lego Movie is a masterpiece.
The cast of the film all seem to be enjoying themselves, whether they're known for their comedic sensibilities, such as Chris Pratt (Emmett) and Will Ferrell (Lord Business), or have reputations as more serious actors, such as Morgan Freeman (Petruvius) and Liam Neeson (Bad Cop / Good Cop).
The film's song “Everything is Awesome (When You Work Together As a Team)”, while used satirically in the context of the semi-dystopian 'perfect' society, is nevertheless redeemed over the course of the film, with Emmett and his band of misfits forming a team of made up of awesome, distinct individuals, and inspiring others.
It could also work as a motto for creative endeavour in general (or at least a collaborative artform such as cinema). The first three words, “Everything is Awesome”, would arguably be a good guide for the appreciation of art / creativity; not that everything is the same or even of the same level of quality, nor that it's impossible for creative work to be bad; but rather that things can be good in so many different ways, and so the best way to engage with creativity is not a default attitude of 'it must be this exact thing or it is not good', but instead open-mindedness, appreciating things for what the are, and appreciating the texture and diversity of creative endeavour.
To take films for example, there's a vast array of different genres and types of storytelling, not to mention differences in visual style and sense of humour, among many others. And these are not mutually exclusive; it's okay to like both Transformers and The Tree of Life, for instance.
“If you find any black pieces, you need to give them to me, okay? I only work in black. And sometimes really, really dark grey.”
Yes, Batman is a supporting character in The Lego Movie. And yes, he's dark and brooding, and it's hilarious. He even gets a song about darkness, which he wrote himself, and features on the end credits. (As Wildstyle says, “He's a true artist; dark and brooding.”) The Lego Movie has a similar amount of fun with Batman as Batman: The Brave and Bold (both the animated TV show and the spin-off comic book of the same name).
Batman is presented as flawed, but has a nice (Bat-)character arc, which I won't spoil here.
The film essentially deconstructs the idea of Batman as a one-dimensional 'cool' character, but with specifically with humour.
Arguably, The Lego Movie is the piece de resistance (or, to quote the film's own subtle pun, Piece of Resistance), of inter-textuality. That is to say, stories interacting with other stories outside of the story itself. The film gleefully (and sometimes literally) breaks the fourth wall, but only so that it can take the party to another room and carry on building more awesome stuff.
While Batman is the only existing character (other than Lego mini-figure types, which don't really count) to feature as a proper supporting character (a savvy choice, since he's awesome and so are the original characters in the movie, and it's important that each one gets enough screen-time, as well as the main storyline being the focus), there are plenty of cameos, both from other DC characters and from those from other stories. As well as specific cameos, there are also numerous other pop-culture references.
Not only does this fit the film's freestyle approach to creativity, but, as with everything in the film, it's done with a self-aware sense of humour. The film both embraces and subverts its pop-culture references; like some kind of judo throw. It's essentially like a cleaner version of Robot Chicken, except with an overarching storyline, and while there's plenty of destruction along the way, the film is ultimately about construction.
As Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell has said, “I like to hear people to say, “We're in the construction business. We're building things, we're not tearing things down.”” (Link contains spoilers for The Avengers and early Marvel's Agents of SHIELD.)
The film takes a wonderfully fresh, fun approach, like that taken by Despicable Me 2 and Johnny English Reborn, parodying a genre while also embracing it from a place of love. There's funny sarcasm, but no cynicism. It may not be the movie we deserve (how do we deserve a movie this good?), but it's the movie we need right now.
And to conclude, what this whole article has been building to:
The Lego Movie is a film where Everything is Awesome, making it the...
Best Film Ever.
And on that note, here's a parody of "Everything is Awesome", which doubles as a tribute to the film, aptly titled "The Lego Movie Is Awesome".
The song is by 2 Broke Geeks, who are pretty awesome themselves (because they're geeks, and geeking out over things is awesome), so you should check out their YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/2brokegeeks.
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