Monday, February 17, 2014

The LEGO Movie

Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of the team.

Those are the annoyingly catchy lyrics to the most favourite pop song in the world of The LEGO Movie, a movie that could have easily gone the route of simplistic storytelling for the sake of selling more LEGO merchandise. But everything, in fact, is awesome about The LEGO Movie, a hilarious and colourful exploration of artistic creativity and the beauty of a moderate Third Way.

The story begins in Bricksburg, where we meet Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary construction worker with little depth or imagination. He's a happy, smiling citizen of a world where everybody does exactly what they're supposed to do--eat a healthy breakfast, buy overpriced coffee, watch and enjoy the same TV show as everyone else, listen to the same music as the masses (this is where "Everything is Awesome" arrives), go to work and be productive and happy, etc. Everyone is happily and mindlessly following the Instructions, orchestrated by Lord Business (Will Ferrell) into a society lacking imagination or independent thinking. Lord Business keeps everything in order through his robotic army, led by Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), and enforced by the Micromanagers, instruction-following machines which look strikingly like the Sentinels from The Matrix trilogy.

When Emmet stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance, he finds himself caught up in a fantastic adventure and the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy--he is The Special and a Master Builder, able to use the Piece of Resistance to stop the Kragle, a terrifying weapon currently in the hands of Lord Business. Partnering with goth-ish heroine Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and the cliche ancient wizard, Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman, who seems to be having a blast in this character), Emmet travels through multiple LEGO universes as leader of the rebels resisting Lord Business's nefarious plans.

While this story seems like a typical "good Rebels versus evil Empire" tale, the final act takes the film to a new level of creativity and depth. Without spoiling anything, The LEGO Movie wonderfully explores the spiritual nature of creativity and our relationship with the Creator. More than anything, it sends a deeper message of moderation and discernment, where the abundant life is experienced by neither "following the rules" or "just doing what feels right." The LEGO Movie offers a Third Way, a way between polarization and politics, a way that is far more difficult to navigate but offers copious rewards when embraced with wisdom and discernment. Creativity and imagination are part of the created order--and there is order here--where we partner with the Creator in the making of culture. Even the portrayal of God is unique, where Father and Son create together in harmony and unity, while the mysterious Spirit guides and comforts as the world is built anew.

The imagination and world-building in The LEGO Movie are par none; the humour is the most laugh-inducing I've had in a year; and the surprises in storyline, character cameos, and direction the film takes are all delightful. There strong parallels between this film and The Truman Show, the Toy Story films, and even The Matrix trilogy. The LEGO Movie, like the best Pixar has ever offered, manages to capture both the imaginative heart of a child and the thoughtful maturity of adulthood, capturing an audience in a holistic manner. As I reflected upon the movie for the past few days, I kept recalling more ideas, more delightful memories, more nostalgic moments. I'd be hard-pressed to find much I didn't like about this film. Everything is definitely awesome about The LEGO Movie. I feel like a kid again.

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