I went to see the Lego movie with my wife and some good friends., and the general consensus was that the movie was actually pretty good, and surprisingly clever.
It was really fast-paced. In fact, we described it as “frantic” as we left the theater. The real magic comes in when you sit down to think about the movie afterward. That’s when you realize that, behind all the crazed silliness, there is a whole lot of depth.
Yes. I’m talking about Legos. Keep on reading for more (spoilers ahead).
So the idea behind the movie is that there’s some super-special and awesome “master builder” out there that can stop the evil Lord Business from destroying the world.
Lord Business is obsessed with getting everyone to act in a certain way. He makes the ideas of “fitting in” and “doing what you’re supposed to” seem “awesome” and people are discouraged from doing anything unique.
Our hero, Emmet, is obscenely good at fitting in. In fact, he’s so good at at it, no one really notices he’s there. He doesn’t have any real friends, and can’t understand why. He lives his entire life by the book (the instruction books that Lord Business gives out to the people), so everything should be awesome, right?
Lord Business’s plan is to force everyone to conform by literally gluing them into their proper places.
It kind of makes sense, if you think about it. Corporations and businesses both want people to latch onto an idea or product, and buy into it completely. Not only that, they want as many people as possible on board. They want you to conform, because it means that they are selling their ideas to more people. Selling to more people means they make more money and gain more power.
In other words, if Apple can convince you that everyone loves the iPod, and that you’re weird if you don’t have one, they win. You’ll feel like an outsider when you don’t have one and all your friends do, so your rightful place is with the iPod owners.
You can see why Fox Business got all upset about the movie’s message. Lord Business, the guy that wants everyone to buy an iPod, is portrayed as the evil mastermind of the story. If you’re not following all the rules, and acting exactly the way you’re told, it means you’re going against Lord Business. Living under his rule (because he’s also the president of the world), means that you can do what you want, but only if it aligns with what Lord Business wants you to do.
Yeah, sounds pretty crappy looking from the outside in, doesn’t it? That’s because it is–independence, down to the individual level, is important to human beings.
There’s another aspect to the human condition that makes this movie damned interesting, though. We also naturally want to be a part of the crowd. People want to be in a group–want to belong.
The guys who wrote the Lego movie know this, so it’s not a crazy movie about complete and total anarchy.
In the end, Emmet realizes that, while it’s important to be truly free, it’s also important to work cooperatively with his peers. Stopping Lord Business would have never worked without Emmet’s ability to follow the rules. He brings a bunch of chaotic “misfits” that never follow the rules together to follow a plan–a set of very specific instructions.
The message here is that it’s OK to follow the rules–in fact, you often have to. However, you also have to be yourself. If you have to build a skyscraper, work together with your fellow construction workers and follow the blueprints. If you don’t, then the building will likely fall down, no matter how cool it looks with your added creative design.
That being said, you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what shows to enjoy, or which MP3 players to purchase. You’re free to make your own decisions, and develop your own tastes. You shouldn’t feel rooted to a set way of doing things, because there might be a better way out there. Perhaps you can improve the existing instructions. Maybe you can invent something wondrous that will enrich people’s lives. To do these things, you have to think beyond the norm.
See, Fox Business missed the point of this entire movie. They thought, since the bad guy’s name is “Lord Business,” that the Lego Movie has to be some sort of evil left-wing propaganda machine designed to destroy the known world. Had they actually watched the thing (and had they given it any thought), they would have realized that The Lego Movie is not anti-business at all.
What this movie is rebelling against is the idea that businesses and governments should gain and maintain power through the manipulation of the populations they serve. This movie is rebelling against the creation of human sheep. Think for yourselves, and question authority when it does questionable things. And, when someone does something right, it’s OK to support them.
It’s not that Emmet and his fellow master builders don’t want you to buy iPods. Instead, they only want you to buy iPods if you like iPods. If ya’ don’t, pick something else.
Oh, and there’s one other very good point that proves this movie isn’t anti-business. It’s a frantic, funny, and clever 100 minute long toy commercial. I know I wanted to go out and buy Legos the minute the credits started rolling.
So, I say this to you, Fox Business, “Lego is an American company that makes American toys. They want you to buy Legos, so they made a movie about them.” I know, profound, right? As a commentor rightly pointed out, LEGO is a Danish company . . . So, I say to you, Fox Business, “Lego has a massive presence here int he USA, selling toys to millions of Americans. They want you to buy Legos, so they made a movie about them.” Still profound?
The movie was pretty awesome, by the way. I wasn’t expecting a deep message, but it was there. Heck, it was deep enough that I fully expect there to be analysis out there that runs completely contrary to mine. So, go see it, and decide for yourself!