This article was written by Jonah Edson, a junior both in journalism and on the Chronicle team.
The LEGO Movie (2014) sets out to tell the world that everyone is important, talented, and unique with a funny but heartfelt storyline. Written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, it’s a movie that reminds us of creativity and imagination and fulfills the dreams of every kid who’s played with Legos.
Bricksburg, where the movie is set, is a city of perfection. Run by President Business, every citizen has instructions on how to live, like what to do in the morning, how to work, and what music to listen to. The story follows Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), a construction worker from Bricksburg who accidentally finds himself attached to ‘the Piece of Resistance’, which is the only thing that can stop the Kragle, an evil super weapon held by President Business. Emmett is a bright, cheery fellow who follows the President’s instructions to a teethe T, thinking this is how to live life happily. Then he meets Wyldstyle, a MasterBuilder trying to find the Piece of Resistance, and Bad Cop, a mean cop with an alter ego known as Good Cop, and his life as he knows it is turned upside down.
The LEGO Movie follows the classic ‘diamond in the rough’ trope. Wyldstyle believes that Emmet is “the Special,” the one prophesied to find the Piece of Resistance, who is supposed to be this amazing, super talented person– “the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times,” according to the prophecy. When she rescues Emmet from Bad Cop, Emmet accidentally does a bunch of cool things, fooling Wyldstyle into thinking he’s as cool and talented as she thinks he is. However, Wyldstyle is largely disgruntled when she realizes he’s a rule follower and not “the Special” as told in the prophecy. This is the first immediate example of Emmet not quite living up to the expectations originally set for “the Special.”
The character choice for Emmet is perfect. While Wyldstyle is the one who’s helping bring on this revolution against President Business, it’s nice to see a main character who starts out trying to be like everyone else. This is a perfect connection to the theme of everyone being unique because we start with a character who seems to be the exact opposite of unique, and the voice of Chris Pratt was a great choice to complete the character.
A hilarious addition to the movie is LEGO Batman, voiced by Will Arnett. He brings an aspect of comedy to each scene he’s in and generally seems pretty air-headed and unaware of what’s going on. His insensitivity causes one to overlook his ability to pull through when it matters, for example, when he gets the hyper-speed engine for the team.
Overall, Wyldstyle is what appears to be a cliche character turned into something new. Played by Elizabeth Banks, Wyldstyle is a deflective and sarcastic character. She’s hardened against the world, likely because of things President Business has done, like creating the walls between the LEGO worlds. During the movie, she’s one of the most judgemental of Emmet, especially in the beginning and when he messes things up, but also of herself. A good example of this is when Vitrivuis, the old wizard who spoke the prophecy in the first place, reveals to Emmet that she’s changed her name many times. Close to the end of the movie, she tells Emmet her real name; Lucy. It’s clear that she’s insecure about her name, and that she’s hard on herself. She tells Emmet that she hoped she’d be “the Special” which is likely the reason she sets such high expectations for herself. Wyldstyle wants to fix things and stop President Business and she believes that she has to be the one to do it. It’s another example of trying to be perfect instead of who you are.
The movie sets Emmet up as a rule follower, starting with him waking up in the morning and following the rule book made by President Business, to when Bad Cop is interrogating him. Bad Cop shows him interviews of the people he works with, who he thought were his friends. However, in the interviews, they talk about not knowing Emmet and some don’t even know who he is. One even says he doesn’t have “something that makes him something” like the rest of them. To the interviewees, Emmet is just another part of a crowd. They each talk about the unique special traits that they all have, and how Emmet doesn’t have any. This is a big hint to the conclusion that ‘everyone is unique in their own way.’ (The meaning of the movie). It seems that Emmet is so stuck in following the rule book made by President Business that he forgets how to be his own person, which he later begins to become when adventuring with Wyldstyle.
Throughout the movie, the other characters place a lot of doubt in Emmet because he’s not living up to the prophecy. He meets the other MasterBuilders, cleverly made up of LEGO’s licensed characters, like Wonder Woman, Superman, Dumbledore, and the 2002 NBA All-Star, Shaquille O’Neal. Emmet gives a speech to them, but once they find out he’s not a MasterBuilder like them, they immediately doubt him, especially when it’s revealed that he’s led Bad Cop right to them in Cloud Cuckoo Land, who soon destroys it. It’s a classic moment of our main character messing things up and unable to do anything right. It fits well because it helps watchers contrast other characters’ doubt in him to when he does things to help. He messes up, which means it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt him, but it places pressure on him to change as a character, growing to help the team instead.
Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), the leader of Cloud Cuckoo Land, has a powerful theme lying under her cheery composition and colorful complexion. Unikitty lives by the notion that she can only feel happy things, and think happy thoughts, which right off the bat is not a healthy way to deal with her feelings. While “thinking happy thoughts” and trying to be positive is a good thing, she appears to be suppressing her other emotions. For example, she’s trying not to be sad when Cloud Cuckoo Land is destroyed, even though this is something she is allowed to be sad about. Her home was just destroyed. Unikitty has a very quiet character arc, which doesn’t need to be loud to be powerful. At the end of the movie, she finally releases her anger on the robots that attack the city.
Vitruvius, voiced by none other than Morgan Freeman, is, for the most part, comic relief, similar to Batman. Of course, he’s helpful in the aspect that he’s the old wizard with great knowledge, but past that, he’s just a funny guy. Who’s mostly blind. In the great plan at the end of the movie, we see a scene of him arguing with a wall.
Besides Vutrivius and Batman, the LEGO Movie is covered in comedy. From the city’s favorite song “Everything is Awesome” (especially people’s reactions to “Everything is Awesome”), Emmet’s double-decker couch, Bad Cop and Good Cop’s switching faces, to just President Business’s personality as a whole–this movie is hilarious and while it’s jokes are kid-ish, that’s what makes them fit this movie’s LEGO world so well.
Emmet slowly proves himself throughout the movie, and his friends begin to gain faith in him. He brings his thoughts to the table and they often help, even though he feels like he can’t assist the team. He builds his double-decker couch, which hides them from Bad Cop, he uses his head to spin the wheel, and he’s the one who comes up with the big plan to save Bricksburg, despite the rest of the team doubting the plan. Even though the plan doesn’t work, by the time they’ve finished executing it, Emmet’s teammates respect him a great deal more, and the plan portrays each character’s unique traits (and in a comedic and lighthearted way because everyone laughed when Batman showed up to President Busniess’s meeting as Bruce Wayne).
The LEGO Movie’s characters are vibrant, in color and character, as is the world they’re in, beautifully built cities of Lego blocks that are constantly bustling with life. The movie provides fun, action, and witty jokes, but also a deeper meaning and genuine friendships. The LEGO movie teaches us something we should all take care to remember and is a good watch for all ages. The LEGO movie is about valuing everyone’s unique traits, with wild and colorful branches of creativity and silly imagination in all of its scenes.