The LEGO Movie is one of the pictures where the less said about it ahead of time, the better. So I won’t say a lot about the specifics.
But I will say that this movie works on so many levels at once, it’s clear that despite the ease with which it unfolds on the screen, the lines and plot and themes were carefully thought through. This movie was lovingly crafted, and with deep respect for its audience. What comes off as cliche in other movies did not scan as cliche here.
It works as a pop-culture smorgasbourd (anything from fantasy and comic book tropes to science fiction movies and Saturday morning cartoons).
It works as a nostalgic peek at the toys that multiple generations have built with.
It works as a humor Gatlin gun, one laugh flung right after the next so that you might miss a few zingers if you’re not attentive.
It works as a self-referential story with strong overtones of The Matrix, dovetailing the efforts of freedom fighters to overthrow a despotic regime with one LEGO figure’s quest to find meaning for himself.
It works as an exploration of the relationship between parent and child — what kinds of expectations exist and what kinds of interactions are ultimately productive for everyone.
It works as a criticism of cultures that alternately squelch out creativity and freedom in favor of mindless productivity and efficiency, while at the same time frantically stoking the self-indulgent fires of each individual’s imagined self-importance.
It also works at the best kind of advertisement, not just as a venue for multiple product placement or by presenting options for what one can build with LEGOs, but by respecting and encouraging the creative spark that exists in EVERY person regardless of whether someone is zany or traditional, old or young. It says that we all can be remarkably inventive, regardless of our personality style, without a quiver of exploitation or snark in its voice.
And this last bit, in a movie that could have easily veered into becoming mostly cynical or somewhat trite, that could have favored part of its audience at the exclusion of other parts but didn’t, is what makes it truly remarkable.