With the news that David Beckham builds Lego models to relieve stress, you might feel it’s one of life’s little coincidences that this week sees the release of The Lego Movie, complete with businessman dad (Will Ferrell) and son in their basement metropolis built entirely of Lego parts. If it is a coincidence, the merchandising spin-offs, already in the window of Hambros, are not. The movie contains 3,863,484 unique Lego bricks and they are so imaginatively configured and reconfigured in the movie that you really do want to buy a few packs and get building.
Fortunately, Writer/Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) have blasted so much wit, humour, wordplay, satire, energy and visual marvels into the film that its exploitative nature cannot stand in the way of a good time.
If you can follow the action sequences and keep track of the characters (183 mini-figures to be exact), you are probably under 18. But the basic story is hammered home by adult minds for people of all ages, particularly in the clever live action ending, where Lord Business is seen as a dad, learning the same lesson that he learns in the film. Freedom comes from empowering others who in turn bring out the best in you. So don’t be a clog in someone else’s wheel: believe in yourself and unleash the power of your imagination.
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a nice, but dull kind of guy from Bricksburg. By trade he’s a construction worker programmed to think that life consists of following the instructions (think Lego instructions and chuckle). He cannot even aspire to being a Master Builder, towering figures that thrive on creativity, like Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln (who appears as a character with a ‘house divided’ exit line). They are too spontaneous and innovative to depend on instructions.
It doesn’t bother clueless Emmet that a Master Builder turned power-hungry autocrat, President Business, AKA Lord Business (Will Ferrell), is busy gluing all the pieces of Bricksburg and beyond together so they cannot be reconfigured by other Master Builders. His goal is to impose his own design on the world and control it. Emmet banal life is untouched by this plan until he accidentally falls into an excavated pit and becomes ‘attached’ to what turns out to be a valuable piece of rubble. This red plastic square has the power to block Lord Business’s evil plan.
Master Builder Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), girlfriend of Batman (Will Arnett), happens to be in the pit searching for the sought-after Piece of Resistance (get it?) when Emmet falls. Wyldstyle takes Emmet to be their saviour and soon the entire pantheon of Master Builders is convinced that Emmet will figure out a way to triumph over Lord Business and his henchman, Bad Cop (Neeson). Emmet, who has a crush on Wyldstyle, is enjoying his newfound status, but when his followers look to him for spontaneous solutions, they begin to suspect he’s a fraud.
Although The Lego Movie’s primary target demographic, is the under 18s, the growing box office power of the over 50s cannot be ignored. Liam Neeson makes a fine Bad Cop/Good Cop and Morgan Freeman, in his animation debut, is the white bearded, sandaled Vitruvius. Although he looks wiser than he really is, his heart is in the right place.
‘Did you just call me old?’ the threatened old hippie asks his assailants. ‘Yeah,’ comes their disrespectful reply.
‘I prefer experienced,’ retorts Vitruvius before flattening the lot.
If he inevitably succumbs to Lord Business, he does not go gently.