The Lego Movie: A Dystopian Utopia?

    When I took three kids to a sneak peek of the new “Lego Movie,” I will admit that my expectations were not very high. Or at least not highbrow.

    But the movie surprised me.



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    The Lego Movie” was full of action. Scene after scene of exploding Lego structures. This was not surprising.

    But, the movie’s plot centered around a Utopian critique. This was a surprise.

    Plot summary

    At the heart of the animated movie lies Emmet (Chris Pratt), just a regular minifig, indistinguishable from all the other yellowheads out there.

    Emmet tows the party line beautifully. He sings the “Everything is Awesome” propoganda jingle (and so will you), laughs every time at the same old punchline (“Where are my pants?”) and, of course, always “follows the instructions.”

    This Utopian society — where everyone follows the instructions, no one questions why and Everything is Awesome — is quite a generic place, though. Despite this, throngs of citizens are happily drinking President Business’ Kool-Aid and humming their way through life.

    Until Emmet is chosen to be a “special.”

    It’s not until Emmet stumbles upon the dark plans of President Business (Will Ferrell) and teams up with amazing sidekick Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) that he begins to question the status quo.

    Does it work for kids?

    Reading this, you’re probably thinking that you’ll take your kid to see it after they’ve finished grad school. Sitting there in the theater, I, too, wondered how all of this would play out for the 6- to 9-year-olds I was sitting with.

    But magically, it did.

    Because at the heart of the movie — Utopian, Dystopian or somewhere in between — the tension between following the instructions and creating on your own, is the central tension Lego fans themselves face everyday.

    It’s not some heady plot that kids can’t quite catch up to (like, say, the plot in “Cars 2”).

    It’s the same thing they grapple with when deciding whether or not to break up that precious kit they spent hours building so that they can go off-book and create something entirely new.

    The movie, which opens in theaters on Friday, is catchy, clever, multi-layered and smart.

    The children with whom I watched it loved it. Guest appearances from the edgy Batman, Wonder Woman, Shaq, the tough-to-tell-apart Dumbledore and Gandalf and Shakespeare definitely added to the fun.

    My only gripe was that I thought it ran longer than necessary. I kept thinking we were at the final scene and then there were several more final scenes. But that set us up nicely for the St. Elsewhere ending so, in the end, it was worth it.

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