Film Review: The Lego Movie

by Sam Robinson

Rated PG. Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks. Directed by Phil Lord & Chris Miller.

Stars: [4/5]

It’s not every day that an audience will willingly fork out cash to go and see a near-two-hour advertisement for a brand of toys.

On surface level, that’s what The Lego Movie is – one massive commercial. More than the featured characters in Toy Story, and even more than Transformers. The world that this film transports us into will encourage children to nag their parents for new Lego sets based on the film, and for adults it’s sure to bring about nostalgia that will soften their hearts to the give in to requests of their kids.

That said, the film’s writers and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller don’t allow The Lego Movie to play out without purpose. They produce a clever, witty script and incredibly dynamic visuals that force the Lego branding to take the back seat. It’s clear this is the same team behind the insanely quirky Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs films, and has an Adventure Time level of absurdity.

The action revolves around a typical Lego figure named Emmet (Pratt), who lives in the Lego Universe as a construction worker. One day while on the job, he falls down a hole and discovers the Piece of Resistance – a red block of Lego that comes with a Sword in the Stone style prophecy. Emmet is now regarded as ‘The Special’ – the one who will stop the evil Lord Business and his super-weapon of destruction named The Kragle. But things don’t seem right – Emmet doesn’t appear to have the necessary gifts and inventive thinking required for such a task.

With the blocky weight of the Lego Universe on his shoulders, Emmet links up with a bunch of Lego characters titled ‘Master Builders’ and sets out to prove that he is indeed The Special, rather than just another Average Joe Lego figurine. 

It’s a very clever concept and it’s executed so well. Credit to production house Animal Logic – the animation is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s bright, ever-moving, and really does bring Lego to life. What is also so wonderful about The Lego Movie is the smile it firmly plants on your face from beginning to end. It pleases both kids and adults equally well, and the jokes fly thick and fast, and are funny!

The characters are so wonderfully developed, too. Emmet is this positive-yet-clueless guy who fits the mould, but it takes most of the film for him to recognise his own vulnerability. Will Arnett is excellent as egotistical Batman, and the supporting characters and cameos are so heartwarming. Benny, the “1980 something space guy” was a real favourite of mine. Give that kid his own spin-off.

In all my praise for this film, my greatest criticism is in the action shift towards the end of the film. I can’t reveal too much (spoilers) and I do understand what is trying to be achieved – (partially, I’m sure, toy sales) – but it’s a huge loss of momentum and really, quite unnecessary. It’s a rare misstep for a film of this quality.

‘A house divided against itself… would be better than this!’

This throw-away line is spoken by a Lego figurine of Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) in the film. He says this when things are chaotic, and in attack of Emmet in particular. It’s a cheeky nod to President Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech from 1858 where he stated ‘A house divided itself cannot stand.’ And that is a reference to scripture (Mark 3:24).

But the line is spoken in the film to highlight the awful disunity between Emmet and the Master Builders. Emmet and the Master Builders all want to stop Lord Business’ evil plans but they have real trouble working together because they all have their own gifting, own skill, own desires. They struggle to let Emmet lead the group, especially when Batman is so darn charismatic. But to save the day, the team all need to work together.

I find it mind-blowing as we read through the Bible that God would give his people an opportunity to share in his work, created to be his team of workers on earth. He doesn’t need us, yet God considers us co-workers! 1 Corinthians 3:9-10:

For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it.

Paul here is reflecting on his role in the church. He might be a self-described master builder, but other Christians work alongside him in partnership. Paul can’t do it all by himself, and he certainly can’t do it without God’s grace.

This is still true today, Jesus’ followers have been given gifts and responsibility to work together to proclaim the gospel through all the nations. It’s a challenge for us to realise our place in God’s plan, band together, and live out the work he has given his church on earth.

The Lego Movie is all about utilising your imagination and skills to achieve a purpose. Emmet manages to use his to build a double-decker couch. And for us, Lego is something that we’ve all grown up with and we too have made all sorts of weird and wonderful Lego creations.

But as this film reminds us, we use our God-given gifts best as we work together to achieve a unified goal. I’m giving The Lego Movie four out of five stars.

The Lego Movie is released on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download in the USA today; in Australia on Thursday, 3rd July; and in the UK on Monday, 21st July.

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