A lot of films exist solely to sell merchandise. The possibility of selling an immense amount of tickets is enough to green light any film, but if there’s a possibility to sell an avalanche of toys along with it, well, any underdeveloped film will see the light of day. That kind of synergy sends studio executives into a devastating climax unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, licensing takes precedence over any level of integrity, a notion that’s easily applied to one of Pixar’s most recent films. For those who aren’t in the know, Cars 2 s would be the first time Pixar behaved in a gluttonous manner. So, when The Lego Movie evolved beyond an idea and into an actual film, the inescapable stench of greed poisoned the air. Its existence felt like a studio’s attempt to create a feature-length toy commercial. The necessity of a Lego branded movie seemed idiotic then, but now that it has enjoyed a monstrous run at the box office, it’s easy to see that people like me were idiots for burning a film at the stake before it had a chance to speak for itself.
Taking place in a world made up of the wondrous interlocking bricks that inspired its existence, The Lego Movie charts the adventure of a vanilla person named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt). Interested in only being accepted by society, which means endorsing senseless TV shows and inane, ubiquitous pop songs, Emmet aims to please anyone and everyone. Unbeknownst to Emmet, he’s a dullard with little value in the world at large, but it’s his sheer innocence and innocuous ideas that rope him into an adventure to save the very world that rejects him. Emmet, along with a renegade babe named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth BanksO and the magical sage Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), seeks out a MacGuffin that will destroy the looming tyranny of Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a maniacal man driven to eliminate individualism.
The actual narrative on-screen doesn’t turn into anything we haven’t seen before, especially when it heavily borrows the “one/prophet” trope that runs rampant in The Matrix series. But to The Lego Movie’s credit, it readily recognizes its basic framework isn’t anything original, and it openly mocks prophetic heroes. In spite of its adoring jabs at action films, The Lego Movie proudly adopts the genre’s penchant for explosive, adrenaline fueled set pieces. Bolstered by outrageously inventive animation and a frenetic pace, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller deliver a collection of action scenes that are as dizzying as they are infectiously fun. There’s an unpredictable nature installed in each set piece, which is an inherent virtue of Legos as toys, as well as the aloof tendencies of Lord and Miller.
The vibrant world in front of us is certainly memorable, but The Lego Movie succeeds because it isn’t afraid of irreverence. Featuring clever misappropriations of words and brilliant characters, with the highlight being an egotistical Batman voiced by the sly Will Arnett, The Lego Movie is actively embracing its silliness. Children everywhere will certainly enjoy the zany behavior on display, but the film also caters to the adults present, often inducing a hefty amount of nostalgia within those who gave up playtime years ago. Even more surprising, is the fact the film isn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds it. Lord and Miller stuff the film with ironic critiques towards the invasive presence of brands in our lives. Because of this, it never feels as if the film is only a marketing tool to pimp Legos to children and lighten the wallets of parents. Rather, it endorses the power of an uninhibited imagination, bounded only by the constraints of the human mind, not society and businesses.