4½ Reasons To Watch the Lego Movie Even Though You Aren’t a Baby
I saw the Lego Movie with my sister and some wine and it was a great decision. I spent the first few minutes hypnotized by Lego fire and giggling at the rapid stream of jabs and jokes (don’t stress out about catching each one).
If you’re not used to the weird world of kids movies, imagine that trying to process and appreciate each joke is like watching the I Love Lucy scene where she ends up stuffing chocolates into her bra.
Like Jack Halberstam writes in The Queer Art of Failure, kids’ movies can be amazing introductions to queer, negativity, and artful failure, because kids tend to care more about friends sticking up for each other than individual success, kids agree that everyone should be able dress however they want and play whatever character they want, they more readily admit when their feelings are hurt, and they use failure to laugh at success, like anti-matter eating away at matter.
The Lego Movie could belong to the same world. The intro to our hero is a quick-witted and pointed critique of conformity and consumer culture: President Business is being shady as hell, but dumb-ass TV keeps our protagonist too entertained to care, everyone consumes the same pop-culture, everyone thinks everything is awesome1, no one thinks for themselves, and in less than five minutes, kiddos everywhere know that Legolandia is no good at all. If you’re a self-reflexive sap this might give you a mini-panic, thinking: “I’m in Legolandia. I’m watching a silly movie that’s making a critique of the contemporary political-economy and I’m just giggling but not doing anything! Am I a Lego fool? Oh no!”
The Lego Movie might not belong to Halberstam’s “Pixarvolts”, but it’s still worth watching. Here are 4½ reasons you should watch it even if you think you’re a grownup:
1. There are a jillion jokes that the babies probably won’t get, and cameos and pop culture references that are at least ten years old. Also, it doesn’t try to make the Lego universe “make sense” — the chicken leg is half the construction worker’s body, the sound of cats meowing sounds like people saying “meow”, and so on. Really, it’s funny!
2. The film is totally a lil bit anti-capitalist. The film’s villain is named Mr. Business, and the main characters collaborate and think creatively to allow all Legolandians to live inter-universe lives where pirate robots, and kitty princess batmobiles, and old west disco queens can live in harmony. I don’t recall the protagonists discussing how to turn a bigger profit. (On the other hand the whole damn movie is a commercial, so there’s that). Either way, you sorta need to understand some political economy to appreciate the film.
3. There’s a big plot twist that is interesting from, like, a film studies perspective and you don’t want to risk not being in the loop on all the inevitable “film theory and Lego reality” conversations. Save yourself the stress, see the film, and stay in the know. (Spoiler alert: the big twist is that the Lego world is totally constructed and there’s a meta level that involves a storyline with real people: a father and a son. The father is the evil “President Business” Lego character and the Lego storyline is the son’s way of acting out.)
4. The film takes aim at the number one question for babies in the 21st century. Does being special matter?
½. Lego water and fire are flippin awesome. Just take a moment to appreciate them while trying to keep up with the jillion jokes.
The aggravatingly catchy song is written by Tegan and Sara. Who would’ve thought?↩