Monday, March 3, 2014

The Ten-Thousandth Review of the Lego Movie to reference "Everything is Awesome!"

After a couple missed opportunities, I finally got to see the LEGO movie with Lily this Saturday.

My friend Phil had mentioned something about spoilers. I was thinking, "What, how can the LEGO movie have spoilers?"

This review will have a ton of SPOILERS. 

But first, the previews.

Island of Lemurs: Morgan Freeman narrating an IMAX film about lemurs. A.) This seems like absolutely the most pleasant thing in the world. B.) Morgan Freeman's voice is everywhere.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Speaking of people whose voice is everywhere, here's an animated movie featuring Patrick Warburton. This looks...okay. Is the strip mining of my childhood now complete?

Amazing Spiderman 2: I don't know a single person excited for this. It is the Pogs of movies. Maybe I'm wrong and it'll be great, but seeing a movie crammed full with so many villains is prompting memories of Batman and Robin. I'll give it a chance, but if I see nipples on the Spider suit, I'm going to start running.

To the LEGO movie!!! We open on Lord Business (Will Farrell) blinding Vitruvius and taking the Kragle.

Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) recites the following prophecy:

One day a talented lass or fellow, a Special one with face of yellow, Will make the Piece of Resistance found, from its hiding refuge underground. With a noble army at the helm, this Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm, And be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times. All this is true, because it rhymes.

The part I really liked about this was they put the girls first. It's a little thing, but usually, it's "boys and girls" or some variation thereof. Trivial, and possibly incidental, but as I think that girls are often given short shrift, and since I was seeing the movie with a little girl whom I hope grows up believing she can do anything, it did make me smile.

I had assumed that Vitruvius was named for Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, though I had it backwards. The Vitruvian Man was named after an architect who took the named Vitruvius and "architect" is derived from the words for "Master Builder". Nice touch.

We cut to Emmet (Chris Pratt). Chris Pratt is about three picoseconds from superstardom, between this and Guardians of the Galaxy. I met him once, briefly, about ten years ago for a promotional event for Everwood. I understand that he's an actor and everything, but he really seemed like a genuinely nice guy who really was legitimately happy to be at the event.

Emmet is a likable everyman with no real friends or opinions of his own. His favorite restaurant is any chain restaurant and he listens to popular music, like Everything is Awesome.

(Everything is awesome is itself awesome. It's performed by Tegan and Sara, an act I had previously assumed to be some kind of Doctor Who tribute band (from Tegan Jovanka and Sarah Sutton) , but it's named after the two leads, whose names are just a coincidence.)

Here's an embed.

Emmet sees a pretty girl poking around  after hoursin the construction site where he works, so he chases her, falls down a hole and suffers a series of comic pratfalls, before encountering the prophesied Piece of Resistance, and experiencing a vision of another world.

He wakes up in an interrogation room, where he is grilled by Liam Neeson's Bad Cop about the piece stuck to his back. Bad Cop takes him to the melting room, but the girl Emmet had seen earlier (Wyldstyle, voiced by Elizabeth Banks) rescues him and they make their escape, breaking through a Wild West world.

I think this is the weakest section of the movie, but only by way of contrast, because it's not as off the chain awesome as the rest of it. We get an intermission where Lord Business berates Bad Cop for failing him, and this is the only part I'd really consider "bad'. When Will Farrell is funny, he's hilarious (Anchorman), when he's not, he's excruciating (The rest of his filmography). This was excruciating, and even though it provided some exposition (Business wants to use the Kragle (Krazy Glue with some letters worn off) to freeze everything in the universe), I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Bad Cop tracks down Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Virtruvius, but they're rescued by Wyldstyle's boyfriend, Batman. That sentence seems like it could come from any role-playing campaign in which I've ever played, except that we never had anyone approaching Wyldstyle's level of competence. We were all Emmet and Batman.

I really like the characterization of Batman in the movie. He's this macho, posturing, narccsistic douchebag. So...I'm gonna say they nailed it. ("If anybody has black parts I need them, okay? I only work in black, and sometimes very, very dark grey.")

The group heads to Cloud Cuckoo Land, where Emmet delivers an "inspirational" speech, but, before he can conclude, Bad Cop attacks, having tagged Emmet with a tracking device, during their earlier confrontation. Our core group of heroes escapes, regroups, attacks Lord Business' lair, fails and are captured. Vitruvius is killed (and admits the prophecy was made up), and Emmet is strapped to a bomb (a nine-volt battery) which will destroy everyone in the building. Lord Business takes off to implement his doomsday plan.

Emmet throws himself in a nearby bottomless pit in order to save his friends, and winds up in the real world, where it turns out the whole movie was happening in the imagination of a little boy. I liked this part a lot. A little bit Matrix, (that vibe was already there, with Wyldstyle's demeanor and the look of the micromanagers) and a little bit Time Bandits.

Back in the Lego World, Wyldstyle takes to the set of "Honey, Where's my Pants?" to broadcast a plea to the citizens of the various Lego worlds to build their own creations and fight back.

In the real world, the little boy's dad, played by Will Farrell, comes down and yells at his kid for playing with his toys. Farrell nails the role of an unlikable, uninteresting, unfunny tool. Probably because it isn't much of a stretch. He begins krazy-gluing his creations in place, so that his son cannot take them apart to build his own. This is reflected in the Lego World, where the forces of Lord Business start freezing everyone. In the real world, Farrell sees a tableau between Lord Business and Emmet and reconsiders his stance, allowing his son to play with his toys whenever he wants.

This also opens the door to his little sister playing in the world, and the movie closes with an invasion of creatures from the planet Duplo.

There is quite a bit I omitted ("Proper Name, Place name, Backstory", Metalbeard the pirate, Benny the 80's Spaceman, Unikitty)
It's fun, it has...I'm reluctant to say "heart", because that sounds like something off a kitten poster, but there's a emotional center that grounds what could have just been a 100 minute toy commercial.


  1. I'm not reading this post for fear of spoilers, but I'm commenting because I thought you should know I'm still waiting for that blog post about game night. (!!!)

    1. Alas, that game night never came to pass. Lots of interest, but nobody was in a position to make it. We wound up grocery shopping instead. When we do have a game night, I will post it here.

    2. Ah--gotcha. Well, I look forward to the grocery-shopping post, anyway.