THE LEGO MOVIE directed by Chris Miller & Phil Lord (USA, 2014)
Who’d have thought plastic brick characters could be so entertaining?
This is, I think, the best animated film since the Toy Story trilogy. What might have been a fatuous extended brand endorsement exercise turns out to be an inspired and imaginative roller coaster ride.
This is popular postmodernism of the highest order; wittily referencing sci-fi classics like Metropolis, Star Wars and Matrix and the all too familiar superhero-driven good vs evil blockbusters. Having been (over) exposed to such movies, it takes for granted that we recognise the mainstream plot devices whereby a power mad villain is pitched against a naive, yet ultimately triumphant, underdog.
This is a movie that endorses the need to preserve individuality in the face of controlling corporations. The average citizens of this Legoland, of whom Emmet is a prime example, have been so effectively indoctrinated that they all like the same TV shows (“Where Are My Pants?”), listen to the same banal pop songs (“Everything Is Awesome”) and conform to a conventional lifestyle that maximises a cycle of production and consumption.
In a neat twist near the end, the link between this surreal world and real life parents and children endorses the notion that thinking outside the box and throwing away the rule book can only have healthy consequences.
In this context, the free-thinking ‘master builders’ are anything but the enemies of the state and the filmmakers cleverly manage to mock, yet ultimately endorse, the formulaic ‘we are all special’ message.