The LEGO Movie
Could The LEGO Movie prove to be the best animated feature film ever made? Perhaps, and even though that question proposes a grandiose claim, it is not at all far-fetched. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have at least (outside of The Silence of the Lambs) created the best February release for a feature film, and at best have created a film that shatters the old notions of what an animated blockbuster film must be.
The LEGO Movie simply works on so many levels: It’s a fun flick that the kiddos will love, it’s the funniest superhero team-up film ever, it’s a social commentary on society’s complacency for consumerism, it’s a story of rebelling against an Orwellian dystopian future, it’s a critique on dead and overused storytelling conventions that Hollywood sticks to, and it even takes a philosophical turn to call into question the nature of God. The film captures the childlike creative spirit and brings many of our childhood imaginations to life. Really though? Are film critics and film lovers making a decent film fit the worldview they want it to? Hardly. I’m telling you, the film is that good. I love this movie. I can truly say “everything is awesome” as the characters do when they burst into song within minutes of the film’s opening.
Let’s enter the LEGO universe. Hand it to Warner Bros., the animation is a wonder to look at. The amount of detail the animators put into every frame is astounding. From the LEGO water (white pieces mixed in for soap and foam) to the little flat orange flames, every person who grew up with LEGOs will nod their heads in approval at how spot-on all the detail is.
In this universe, Lord Business is president of the entire world, with robot employees and security officers at his disposal. The citizens of this LEGO metropolis follow all the instructions from sun up to sun down. They all gleefully purchase the same overpriced coffee, Parallel Park perfectly between the lines, listen to “Everything is Awesome” as it is played 24/7 on the radio, and all watch the same sitcom on TV. Everyone does these things all while being watched via Lord Business’ wonderful surveillance systems. Lord Business has an evil plan to glue the pieces together permanently destroying any free will of his citizens.
Of course there would be a prophecy that a young “MasterBuilder”, known as “The Special”, would find the missing relic needed to put an end to Lord Business’ evil plan. “The prophecy is true,” says Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman), “because it rhymes.” Emmet, the film’s hero, is mistaken for “The Special” and starts on an epic adventure to defeat Lord Business. Along the way we meet the most epic cast of characters ever complied: Superman, The Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, Gandalf, Dumbledore, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Shaq and the 2002 NBA All Stars, and a special surprise (of whom I won’t name) which will have the nerds cheering with excitement. The film is infused with nostalgic, pop-culture hilarity.
On that level alone the film would be satisfying, but again, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanted to push the boundaries of what an animated blockbuster feature could be. The film’s third act proceeded by an earlier reference to “the black monolith” and then a beautiful ode to the time sequence from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is what really led the film to ask questions about the nature of God, or “The Man Upstairs”, as the film names him.
Through a more philosophical lens one can begin to ask if God is some egomaniacal micromanager who wants order and perfection. If something is preordained can there really be any life in it? Is God a creator who wants permanent and fixed destinies for his vessels or creations? Does he love? What’s his nature?
If I look at the final act in a more personal manner I can begin to ask what God wants from me as an individual. Does God want me to live my life in an individualistic way striving my best to follow instructions? Is he pleased with that? Of course the answer is no. But the film espouses an alternative, namely through community with others working towards a larger goal.
Initially, I thought the film was suggesting seeking individual creativity without the need of others. Rather, the film actually suggests a collective experiment in working together for a larger good. God existed in eternity past with the Son and with the Spirit in a perfect community of love. All of creation overflowed from that love. As created beings, we are designed to work and to create. If we are not seeking to create or work together, we are not living up to our full potential in Christ. The film celebrates the body of Christ. We are all one body and individually members of it. As individuals, we must find our creative voice and use our creative efforts to serve the function of the larger body. We do this by being bound together in love with the unity of the Spirit.
The film said everything I’ve communicated before in regard to Christians, especially seeking the highest form of creativity for the ultimate glory of Christ. The film is one of the freshest a Hollywood studio has released. Go for the laughs, go for the fun, go for the nostalgic hilarity, and for G-O-S-H’s sake go because everything is awesome!