Month: February 2014

The Most Impressive Aspect of The Lego Movie

I realized this as I was discussing the film with my friends — the thing that impressed me both about the film was how it was able to seemingly embrace contradiction as part of its fiber. I feel that the writing, all that stuff about following instructions, not following instructions, valuing off-the-cuff creativity in one set of circumstances, and practiced training in another, giving the limelight to both individual rebellion and groupthink, primed me to accept divergences between the morals hinted by plot resolutions and those articulated and stressed by the character dialog. Most films aim for consistency and violate their own world morals to make plots go forward. Lord and Miller didn’t have to worry about violating precedents they set, because from the outset, one of their precedents was that precedents could be violated.

I now increasingly find a lot of the accusations of sexism leveled against the writing of the film to be increasingly worthy and sensible. Nonetheless, I feel that Lord and Miller’s writing should be celebrated for the rare achievement of making contradiction palatable, maybe even agreeable, within the framework of their fictional universe.

The Lego Movie Review Addendum (Less Exclamation Points This Time)

In my audience, there were a lot more adults than little kids. And I think the adults appreciated the film more than the kids, whom were somewhat confused and frazzled. I think the movie has excellent rewatchability, and I actually can’t wait to watch it again — many pop culture references/inside jokes for those who grew up in the nineties and aughts, layers of stuff going on, the physical humor in the action scenes is reminiscent of The Avengers. I just don’t think it translates well generationally — the 5 – 10 year olds watching this don’t have the same backdrop of stuff going on that this movie owes so much to, and the pop culture referenced will only become more dated and alien is these kids get older. Hard to describe, but while this film has a rapid cutting style associated with films of this era, it also feels like something that is not part of the age of the Internet.

This film is a twin celebration of Legos and cinema. So much fun. A double screening of this and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World would work excellently, IMO. A screening of this film with psychedelics would also be fascinating.

Consistently positive praise from critics. A couple things I noticed from the comment threads following reviews:

-Lots of people thought that this was a film that would not be out of place in the Pixar pantheon, if not for its insanity. I agree.

-A lot of parents who enjoyed the film while their kids did not. Also, some cases were neither the parent nor the kid enjoyed the film. I have a feeling that these were older parents. I think that this film does rely a lot on common experience, and people who did not grow up in the 90s and aughts will miss out on a lot of the nostalgia that this film evokes. A few other people complained that this film had crass morals, was ambiguous (oh no, how can we expose our children to ambiguity?!), was contradictory. I actually enjoyed those aspects of the film, and feel that it set The Lego Movie apart from most “kids’ movies.” Yes, this was a very contradictory film — and I feel that that quality may have been intended by the creative team to get kids wondering, to may get adults wondering along with their kid, because the Lord knows how uncomfortable American society is with ambiguity (no data to back this up, just let me have this one).  I find that the film advocates for keeping a  “middle way” demeanor.  The writing whispers to me the precept that rules serve their purposes (especially in maintaining state order), but can still be broken on occasion to good effect. Encouraging and stirring up constant chaos would be counterproductive for a well-intentioned, responsible administration that aims to be efficient in serving its people, but a spurt of upheaval is necessary to sweep a regime that has lost its way (or never had one in the first place) out of power. There is a time and place for anything.



I’m trying my damndest to be critical, and I can only find two nitpicks with this movie:

1) An alarm clock waking a guy up in the first 5 minutes of the film.

2) The way Will Ferrell hugs his Pretend Kid.

I loved so much about this film. The writing. The voice acting. The way the action was blocked, no pun initially intended. The references (ending The Dark Knight reference). The homages to other films. The voice casting. The way other Lego franchises were worked in. The animation. The set design. The editing. Uni-fucking-kitty. And that the movie sardonically danced around modern corporate culture sent this thing over the top.

I am so happy The Powers That Be that own Lego and control its branding approved this. A hell of a special film. I hate using vague descriptors, but man, I will abuse cliche and say that this film had a soul. This was not only a love letter to Legos — this was a love letter to cinema.

One of the greatest films I’ve ever seen, no joke. Watching back-to-back screenings of The Lego Movie and Scott Pilgrim versus the world would be mind-blowing.

Lego needs to come out with a whole series of insane set themes. Edward Snowden the Lego set. Lego Civil War. Lego Guilded Age. Lego Neutral Milk Hotel Tour. Lego Project Manhattan. Cold War Lego. Genghis Khan Lego. The Wire Lego.

A Conservative in the Afternoon

I jotted down this vignette a while back recounting an episode that happened to me last October that modestly affected me. Shaken isn’t the right word to use here — I wasn’t trembling in fear. But for a period afterwards, I did feel quite uncomfortable, oddly contrite whenever I recalled the incident