by Brenda W. Clough
This is not a movie that I intended to see. I do not do Legos, I do novels, which are very similar only you have to make the pieces. But my son, who is oppressed by his un-cool parents, told me that I had to see it. And still I dragged my heels, until I was trapped in an airplane seat on a transatlantic flight, and had cranked out over ten thousand words of fiction in three days. Suddenly my brain was slush and I had to gafiate. And there was this movie!
The Lego Movie has everything calculated to displease. It is first of all a corporate shill, cold-bloodedly designed to boost the sales of an international megabusiness that markets one of the most popular toys on this planet. It has an annoying sound track, full of electronic SFX and an earworm theme song of Charybdis-like power and adhesiveness. (Do not click that link! I put it in for completeness’ sake. DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK! You clicked, didn’t you — well now you’re done. Your only hope is to start singing ‘It’s A Small World’ aloud over and over again until your ear is infected with a different worm.) Almost all the characters are plastic toys, with the full range of emotive power, facial expression and acting nuance that this implies. Fifty percent of the human cast is Will Ferrell. It fails the Bechdel Test, unless you argue that the pink plastic kitty unicorn is a girl. The entire film is targeted to persons fifty years younger than myself and of the opposite gender, which necessarily forces plot and theme to be juvenile and as deep as a damp Kleenex is thick.
And wow! It is totally charming! Whatever else you can say about brick toy systems, you can be really really creative with them.And the creators of this movie fully exploit that to the max, and beyond. Legos plus stop-action photography souped up with CGI gets you an insanely — dare I say it? — plastic medium. You can do anything. You can send Batman over to steal a warp drive from Han Solo with the assistance of My Little Pony. You can get real actors into the Lego world. You can have Lego oceans, Lego clouds. It is totally fun!
This film is an ode to creativity. It’s a creative ode to creativity, flipping all its obvious weak points over and turning them into powerhouse assets. Of course we all love it. No wonder it was a monster hit, goosing Lego into first place in the cut-throat toy market and inspiring deep, Karl Marx-quoting think pieces in major news organs. And of course there will be a sequel in 2017, because corporations always make sequels of really lucrative movies. They’re going to think of some way to turn this into a magnetically attractive feature. I don’t know how, but I know they will do it. I’m a believer. Everything really will be awesome! (Oh nooo! Wait — Walt Disney, to my aid! “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…”)
The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.