The Lego Movie (2014)
This may sound very cliche, but at least part of my reasoning for pursuing an engineering degree resulted from my growing up with Legos. Even then, I was skeptical when I first saw the trailer for The Lego Movie. I was expecting a children’s movie that mistook mindlessly inserting pop culture references for comedy.
The Lego Movie follows Emmet, the most generic construction worker Minifigure that could possibly have been molded as he lives his life exactly as his instruction manuals prescribed. One day at work, he meets Wyldstyle, a rebel working to undermine the very system they live in. Emmet’s life would never be the same.
What stuck out to me at first was the animation style. The Lego Movie used computer graphics designed to look as if someone simply stop-animated Lego models, simultaneously acknowledging and ignoring the rather limited range of motion of Minifigures. Seeing Emmet attempting to do jumping jacks at the beginning illustrates exactly that.
As the movie progresses, you The Lego Movie’s style of humor, which was largely slapstick and involving pop culture references. As the trailer indicated, The Lego Movie involves a very extended Batman reference. Then I found that the slapstick and pop culture references both had one surprising thing in common: They were actually very funny.
The Lego Movie was legitimately the funniest movie I have seen in a very long time. The slapstick succeeded because they involved characters I grew to really like very early on in the film, and the pop culture references involved things (like Legos) that I grew up liking, and thus was very able to connect with. This movie came at exactly the right time when I saw The Nostalgia Critic’s editorial about how many people, because of movies like Epic Movie or Vampires Suck, are convinced the parody genre is dead. Hearing the voices of Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams in one notable scene helped with making The Lego Movie’s style of parody succeed.
Beyond the slick animation and comedy, however, The Lego Movie delves into some deep, existential questions. What is it that makes us special? Are we really in control of our destiny? At one point, we even see Emmet traverse universes, and not at all in a way moviegoers would expect. That was when The Lego Movie took a turn for the trippy.
It’s because The Lego Movie made me think that I think it succeeded in all the areas that Frozen (at least in my mind) failed. It’s because The Lego Movie, while very likely awing younger audiences with its slick animation and its comedy, also made me, a 22-year-old grad student, think about both its jokes and the questions it asks that I think it actually succeeds as legitimate entertainment for the whole family. The Lego Movie is simply the best animated movie I have seen in a long time, topping Disney’s Frozen and even Studio Ghibli’s Pom Poko.