Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nitpickery -- The Lego Movie

Hey y'all.  So I just got done watching the Lego Movie.  It's one of the most hyped things I've seen so far this year.  One guy called it an "instant classic".  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  So I'll nitpick it.

In any case, it's the story of a Lego guy named Emmett, who is the most boring guy in the Lego universe.  He has no individuality, and just lives life according to the whims of President Business, who controls every single aspect of Lego lives.  Then he finds a mystical artifact, called the "piece of resistance", or some silliness, and this means that he's "the special one" who will save everyone from President Business.

So, I'm going to nitpick, and as usual nitpickery means spoilers.  Don't worry, this is the kind of movie that's fun even when spoiled.

Spoiler free review: It's a fun good time, so long as you don't overthink it.  Bring your kids.  Both you and they will have something to laugh at.  Good times were had by all.

And...that's all the spoiler free stuff I have to say.  Really, this isn't a complex movie, and it doesn't need a complex review if you don't care to read an analysis.

Alright, spoiler time.  Also, the rating system for this movie is going to be a series of positives versus negatives.  Because things have to be switched up from time to time.


Negative:  Is anyone else sick to death of generic prophesy movies?  Like some old guy says something, and then it turns out to be true?  Sure it turns out (I warned you about the spoilers), that the prophecy is a bunch of bunk, but it's a tired old trope and I'm bored of it.  After all, these guys don't even know what prophecy is.  It's a message from God.  Or gods/goddess/whatever, if you want to go with that lore.

But still, there's a lot of fun to be had with this movie.

Positive:  Normally I don't think visuals are all that important, but it was so adorable to see everything in little lego pieces, even things like fire, water, and smoke.  The imagination and work that went into it must have taken forever, and it looks great.  Of course it was all done with computers, but there's something really charming about them hanging their ghost character on a string.  That was pretty amazing.

All the same.....

Negative: One of the things I don't like about modern children's movies is that they feel the need to make all kinds of visuals fly across the screen -- a million things happening at once.  It hurts the eyes.  There's just too much to look at, and since it's all going super fast, it's like some trippy, lego-based fantasy.  For example, at my work we're selling an ice-cream shop aircraft lego set from this movie, but it was onscreen for all of ten seconds in a scene full of other similarly odd aircraft.  Too much to look at to enjoy any of it.  Ugh, and don't get me started on those "time tunnel" sequences.

Positive: the idea of an ice cream fighter plane is amazing.

Positive: I love all of the non-Lego items that are used in the story.  Vitruvius the wizard guide guy (they don't make it all that clear) uses a mostly chewed up lollipop for a staff, and President Business has all kinds of "artifacts" that are really bandaids, nail polish remover, and krazy glue.

Meh: One of the things I found a bit iffy about the movie at first was "Wild Style," Lucy.  It seemed for a bit that she would turn out to be an FS1, that is a feminist stereotype who is so perfect that she's entirely boring and flat.  Fortunately they didn't go that route, and she's a fairly interesting person.  Her pink and blue in her hair was really cool looking.  Also, I loved that she was dating Batman.  I didn't like that she broke up with him in the dumbest way possible at the end.  What guy is okay with his girlfriend running off with some dude she just met?  Therefore, she's not a positive or a negative.  She's just kind of there to be exactly what the plot wanted her to be.

Positive: Princess Uni-Kitty!  Okay, she's probably technically more of a neutral too, because she's a shallow cliche as a sugary sweet person repressing her dark side, but I have a soft spot for cute, irrational things.

Positive:  The internal moral of the movie was really good.  It went on about the positives of creativity, and then it went on about positives concerning instructions and working together.  That's great, and shows a depth that a lot of movies don't have by highlighting both sides of a conflict.  There's a place for creativity, and there's a place for reigning it in.

Negative: The external moral didn't work for me.  By external I mean outside the primary lego conflict.  As it turns out, the whole movie comes from a young boy's imagination, and he's playing with his father's collectible Lego sets.  The Lego sets that he's not allowed to touch.  The movie progresses toward the father deciding that he really should let his son play with them, and at the tail end, his very young daughter also.

My problem with this is that it's really disrespectful to the parent and his desires.  How many of us, even as children, wanted to have massive Lego cities to play with and not get ruined?  You don't have to babysit children long to know that they're little tornadoes of destruction, and especially ones as young as the father's daughter apparently is.

Having a massive toy collection is a joyous thing, and some of us get as much enjoyment out of looking at them as playing with them.  I used to stare at American Girls and Magic Attic Club catalogs as a kid because my parents could never afford the dolls, and looking was the only way I could play.

I say that the father has every right to have a collection of buildings that he wants to keep intact.  He doesn't have to let the son play with them if he doesn't want to.  Sure, it's helpful to allow the son to have cool Lego sets of his own, but the dad should be in no way obligated to decimate his collection. In fact, taking care of this collection could teach the son to take care of his own things.

Okay, so maybe the father decides the son is old enough to play with the Legos.  Whatever.  That doesn't mean that the little sister should.  What's good for one kid isn't always good for another, especially since Legos are a choking hazard.

Buh?: A third moral is sort of off for me. It basically says that everyone is special: Emmett speaks to President Business and says that everyone's special, and that the President can be special by allowing others to show their creativity.  All I could think of during this scene was the theme of Incredibles, which was that when everyone's special, no one is.  Of course, these aren't mutally exclusive. Incredibles implies that there are times when you need to let go of your pride and accept the fact that sometimes there are people more talented than you.  The Lego Movie says that everyone has something to give, even if it's not as amazing as what other people come up with.  Still, this comes across as really, really juvenile in the movie, sort of like the whole "gold stars and holding hands" kind of sentiment.  It's something to think about, anyway.

Negative: Too obvious moral value.  This may be a personal problem, but I don't like it when movies have values that are stated by the characters.  I prefer it when the movies are shown, not told.  Sure, this is a kid's movie, but look at Home Alone.  Tell me what the themes of that movie are.  You may come up with the value of family, overcoming petty fears to learn bravery against real ones, or the spirit of Christmas.  Something like that.  But at no point does a character come out and tell you what the theme is.

Eh, maybe I need to get over it and read Aesop's Fables again.

Overall, this is still a good movie despite my negative points.  It's fun, cute, visually interesting, and just a good time.

Best actor: Uh....not really sure it's good to pick one in an animation.  I'll go ahead and say Will Ferrell. He's always the best when he's a side character, and usually a really funny bad guy.

This movie is for:
- Kids
- Lego fans
- People who want to have fun

This movie is not for:
- Nitpickers
- People prone to seizures.

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