You can find a non-spoiler review of The Lego Movie right here. After the trailer, though, I'm going to discuss everything in the movie, with no regard for the spoiler-sensitive. Join me if you've already seen the movie, or if you just plain don't care about spoilers. Everything after the trailer will spoil you:
Boy, this movie got a whole lot of love from critics, didn't it? And, I must say, the critical love is for the most part deserved. I liked The Lego Movie a lot. If you're going to make a movie based around a licensed product, this is the way to do it. Here are the things that I especially liked:
• Will Arnett's Batman was amazing. I kind of can't believe that DC allowed this buffoonish portrayal to appear in the movie. (Although I think some of the praise for this Batman is a bit much; it's not a "deconstruction" of Batman, it's a gentle ribbing.) Batman has been built up over the last couple of decades to be the perfect man, with a plan for every eventuality; it's nice (and, I would argue, essential to the character) to see him act petty and small every now and again. There's an absurd side to Batman that Nolan's Batman movies never really addressed, and The Lego Movie is a nice antidote to that myth-making. I liked, too, that the movie made Green Lantern out to be an unlikable idiot. That's pretty much Hal Jordan in a nutshell, as far as I'm concerned.
• I am so glad to see a blockbuster-level movie take down the pervasive blockbuster thinking that a main character has to be predestined for greatness. Some of the best movies ever made feature ordinary humans who make extraordinary sacrifices to come out on top. (Die Hard is always a more interesting movie than Live Free or Die Hard for exactly that reason.) I don't understand why every hero has to be part of a legacy of heroes, passed down from time immemorial. Some might argue that it has to do with the libertarian-infused times in which we live, and there could very well be something to that. Maybe it has to do with religion. Maybe it's just lazy storytelling. Whatever the case, it's terrible, and it should stop.
• I really liked the way the movie saved the real-world reveal until the climax of the film. A lesser screenwriter would have dropped a bunch of hints along the way that this movie was playing out familial conflicts in the realm of imagination, but why bother? It's a movie about Lego. Of course it's going to involve a kid and a parent. That's not a jump that the audience needs to be trained into accepting. (I do wish the kid had been a girl, though.)
And two minor things I didn't like:
• While watching this movie, did anyone else expend a little part of their brainpower worrying about how terrible The Lego Movie, Part 2 will be? Lego Movie is doing so well at the box office that a sequel is inevitable. And the sequel is probably going to be driven more by cash than by an auteur spirit. It's not a big thing, but I do find the fact that someone in Hollywood is right now planning ways to completely miss the spirit of this movie with a sequel to be depressing.
• Really, some of the praise for this film is over-the-top. It's not really subversive, any more than The Simpsons is subversive. It's not shocking. It's certainly not anti-business. The fact that people made an actually good movie out of a licensed property isn't subversion, or a shock. It's just unexpected. In the end, it's a movie about how fun Lego are, and a demonstration of how much children (and adults) enjoy playing with them. It's a fun, inventive commercial that's well worth paying for, but it's still a commercial. I enjoyed the little jabs that the script threw at those unimaginative licensed Lego kits that almost discourage creativity in children, but the movie was all about ripping those kits up and starting again. I liked the movie. I liked the movie a lot! But, Jesus, people. Chill out a little bit, okay?