How many movies can be said to be truly and completely accessible? A film not just for the young at heart, but for hearts of any age that still enjoy having fun. The LEGO Movie is able to tap into the inner child so effortlessly, beyond the basic nostalgia I was expecting. It’s a movie as much about creativity and exploration as it is reminding us of the joys of a product with a long history of entertaining children and injuring parents’ feet.
Right off the bat, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller make their presences felt in your ribcage, and their unique comedic voice keeps the laughs coming at all the right moments. Their expertise lies in extrapolating from a core idea - a school full of cloned historical people, food weather systems, even buddy cops sent back to senior year* - and building a universe filled with off-beat ideas, absurd puns and absurd non-sequitors. So they are the absolute perfect choice for a franchise with a history of licenses to pull from, including DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars amongst many others.
And while all of this is in service to LEGO, of course, never does it truly feel like an ad for the product itself. Sure, it reinforces the shit out of this brand, demonstrating how far-reaching these little blocks have become. It reminds us of the 80s age of LEGO, which I grew up through - with space, medieval and western playsets - while at the same time embracing the different ways people play with the products in their own way. But none of these notions overshadow the core sentiment of the film, and that’s that creativity and individuality are highly rewarding pursuits.
The acting is all-around fantastic, from Will Ferrel’s President/Lord Business through to bit characters like Jonah Hill’s Green Lantern. Every part and every joke feels considered, and proves the success of Lord’s and Miller’s comedic attention to detail. Their ability to play in the microscopic minutia and then zoom far back to the macroscopic world-view, always with hilarious results, is simply amazing to experience. That this film has such a wonderful narrative arc, one that is able to zoom back even further to a meta-macroscopic worldview, is a staggering accomplishment. Note: If you’ve seen the film, you know how difficult it is for me to beat around the bush here without spoiling one of the most masterful parts of the story, and maybe that last bit won’t even make sense until you do.
But whatever your past experience with LEGO, I truly feel that this is one film that taps into the raw creative-joy-nerve-center (for lack of a proper piece of anatomical nomenclature) of every viewer in a way that so few movies have.
Because you can force nostalgia. You can showcase a beloved product. And you can write jokes that service both ends. But it’s quite a different thing to be able to make us long to go and play again like we did when we were naive, wide-eyed morons who were never worried that our ideas were dumb and impractical.
This film does just that.
*Clone High, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jumpstreet