Overview: A generic Lego discovers he is the chosen one. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2014; Rated PG; 100 minutes.
Everything is Awesome: Emmett is an ordinary Lego guy. He wakes up every morning to pay for over-priced coffee. He says hello to everyone on the way to work. He follows instructions to the letter. He’s so ordinary that hardly anyone notices him. When Emmett discovers the Piece of Resistance, he also realizes that he might be destined for a greater path. It’s a seemingly generic setup that continuously subverts expectations with plenty of humor and a look at what makes Emmett special. The Lego Movie offers a great message for both kids and adults (without spoilers): What makes you special, is you.
Movies are too often intent on glorifying heroes as “The chosen ones” or through some circumstance of “pre-destination” that they often forget what makes the best heroes stand the test of time in the first place. We’re constantly told that the characters are heroes but we don’t see much of it. It’s never contextualized in a meaningful way. Emmett isn’t a spit in the face of that notion. Rather, he’s a reminder of what makes someone a hero.
Apart from the deconstruction of the classic hero, there is also the thematic component of storytelling metaphors. Whether the allegorical elements are religious, political, or related to pop culture, The Lego Movie tackles them in a way that brought tears to my eyes. A third act twist in particular nails home one of the most poignant scenes in an animated movie since the climax of Toy Story 3. It’s that good.
This is all thanks to the incredible duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
The Lord & Miller Factor: The Lego Movie is anything but a cash grab. Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made a career on directing seemingly uninspired movies. They have a way of undermining generic tropes with a reinvigorated sense of purpose and heart (See: 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). Their direction is fun, energetic, and appropriately funny. Most of the humor in the movie stems from dialogue, but Lord & Miller get great mileage from the physical comedy as well. The Lego designs in the world are just as imaginative and inventive as the story they support. They’re also so freaking adorable that they made me regret giving away my Legos.
Final Thoughts: Phil Lord and Chris Miller have proven that they’re some of the best directors working today. They have a wholly complete understanding of what makes movies great and simultaneously know how to please everyone. If The Lego Movie is a cash grab, it might be the best cash grab in movie history.