This one goes out to anyone who had quite a bit of their childhoods spent deciphering those Ikea-esque instruction manuals…
“Any kind of product placement is distracting, just kills any type of creativity ruins any sort of artistry integrity” some complain about. Well, here is a movie made entirely of product placement, and has more heart and effort put in it than any other non-oscar contender movie in theaters now. Just goes to show anything can be turned into a good story as long as there is a emotional drive.
The team that brought us 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs create something great and wondrous out of concepts that could otherwise be absolutely no good; just cash grabs with little to no inspiration or creativity. Well the directors and animators here prove a little heart goes a long way in a movie.
Emmet, voiced to hilarious effect by Chris Pratt, is by most accounts just a simple ordinary lego construction worker in a lego city dominated by the notion of following the rules of the manuals and that “Everything is Awesome” (you might have the song stuck in your head for days afterward, fair warning) by doing so. Until one day a girl by the name of Wild Style, enthusiastically voiced by Elizabeth Banks, comes into his life to change his and everyone else’s world forever. She is following a prophecy fore-told long ago that someone looking like Emmet (and by extension every other lego figurine) would use a special brick to stop impending doom and gloom in all of the lego lands.
On paper as generic and forgettable an adventure story as any, but here in lego world with all the unique characters and arcs the story soars into remarkable heights. The interactions between all the characters, based off of real lego sets, are genuinely funny, creative and even witty. With enough child-like enthusiasm to win over nearly anyone, sending them into blissful nostalgia whether they played with those colorful plastic bricks or not. That is what makes great children’s entertainment, enjoyment by both the mass of kids and their parents staring at the screen. Kids will flock to see their lego creations come to stunning real-life through CGI animation and the folks will get a grand dose of fond memories of their own times as kids playing with their toys.
To try and answer the obvious question of does it matter if you yourself constructed, or are constructing, those famous plastic bricks in order to enjoy this? Of course there will be a better connection to the movie if you have been exposed to it before hand, but the humor and messages are broad enough appeal to hit for really anyone. The targets including politics, individualism, movie cliches, the Justice League, the lego franchise itself. Universally understood above all is the creativity and imagination used to create whole worlds and stories when we were all little and exploring the world our own ways.
There are many messages to be in the narrative, one of which I for one even started to get quite emotional about, and some will go over younger people’s understanding. There in lies another component of great stories for kids, that they treat kids with respect that they will be able to figure it all out eventually. These kind of stories give them the building blocks (no pun intended) to grow and expand their emotional maturity. More importantly it makes them willing to get inspired and learn more about the world around them. What more can you ask about a movie with tiny talking plastic figures?