If you think liking Lego bricks past the age of twelve is embarrassing, please be done with this post lest your opinion of me is irrevocably damaged, thank you.
For the rest of you: yes, I find Lego bricks one of those things you’re lucky not to grow out of and I know more such people. And four of us, all serious adults, went to see The Lego Movie without even taking neighbors’ kid for cover and unselfconsciously enjoyed it a lot.
To me the greatest attraction of the movie is visual: how the whole world is built from well-known, recognizable pieces. The first time we saw it done were Lego video games (full geek alert, we loved those, too): Harry Potter and Marvel Superheroes and, really, it shouldn’t be as thrilling as it is to recognize brick models remembered from childhood used as parts of, for instance, Hogwarts scenery. A clever, funny idea, like using coffee mugs for helmet elements, always surprises you and makes you smile. The movie works in the same way and we still enjoyed it a lot, especially that it can use so many more kinds of scenery than the games. Allegedly, were you a millionaire, you could build all the sets from actual bricks. The creators of the movie also drew inspiration from those fan-made stop-motion Lego shorts, which shows e.g. in sea scenes. Even though the movie is not stop-motion (because if it were the world would have to end from too much awesomeness), it often feels like it with the attention to textures and detail: such as bite marks on the bricks. The hardest thing to 3D-animate always seem to be human beings and The Lego Movie didn’t have that to deal with, but it feels like they took all the resources they would normally use for animating humans and used them to make the brick world feel tangible. It also reminded me a lot of an earlier animation, Wreck-It Ralph, which uses old video game imagery for building its world. This kind of visual game of reassembling the whole world (get it?) of something well-known really speaks to my designery soul.
With so much visual candy you hardly need a plot but you still get one. It’s not all that surprising but both you and that neighbors’ kid will enjoy it. It’s about Emmett, a regular construction figurine, who gets himself involved in an adventure, blah blah hero quest, blah blah shooting and car chases, blah blah happy ending. But while the grand message is obvious (believe in yourself, be loyal to your friends and you’re a special snowflake just like that guy next to you), I liked the anti-corporate jabs that abound especially at the beginning. In Emmett’s everyday world you need to follow instructions, buy overpriced coffee and enjoy the same TV show every day. This was a little more surprising, and more glum, than one would expect from this kind of movie – or, you know, a movie that only grand corporations with their money could ever produce.
Anyway, The Lego Movie quickly rose among the ranks of my favorite animated movies (up there with Tangled, Ratatouille and a few others) and I’m sure I’ll re-watch it, at least just to gorge on the background details I didn’t catch the first time.