My kids are at the age at which I can safely dump them at the movies by themselves. Yeah, I do due diligence (no Croods, etc), but once I settle on one that’s okay, and if their big sister isn’t in town to take them, I’m good with settling them at the cineplex, then scooting down the strip mall to the bookstore for a spell.
But hey, The Lego Movie! People are saying it’s transcendent and Tolkienesque!
(Not that I’m a Tolkien fan, but isn’t “Tolkien” a synonym for “deep?” Isn’t it?)
So sure, I’ll go! Especially since the movie theater at which we ended up now sells wine and beer!
(Glitch: No one was at the wine and beer counter this evening, and I really didn’t feel like chasing an employee down to sell me alcohol for the family movie. That would be lame.)
As we say on the interwebs, YMMV, but, all I have to say is:
Well, that’s an outright horrible lie, and I apologize. That’s not all I have to say.
Look, I understand where the people who are saying what they’re saying about this movie are coming from. But in my view, they are deeply overreading and overselling it.
What follows is MY OPINION. That’s it. MY OPINION.
And my opinion is that this is no Incredibles, Toy Story or Ratatouille. My kids seemed to enjoy themselves somewhat, but they’re not going to want to see it again, probably ever. The Lego-ish aspects are way too-rapid fire to be intriguing, and there’s zilch emotion. Sorry, but zilch. Zero.
I suppose you could see it in another way. Obviously people do. Critics are seeing the film as an expression of an artful balance between creativity and structure. That both are important and necessary. Fine. I suppose you could see it that way. But here’s the way I see it, as a parent who has been fighting the Lego battles for a decade now.
Oh. I suppose you want to know what the Lego Battles are. Here’s what the Lego Battles are:
Child desires a Lego set, the least expensive of which are not about fourteen dollars. The “best” ones are no less than thirty, when you throw in the tax. All Lego sets now are tightly designed to be One Thing. They are one particular Star Wars ship or scene from the Hobbit or another movie or maybe a particular medieval castle scene.
You can’t take them to Wal-Mart or Target or any store that stocks Legos because they will first lean, then drift, then outright sneak in the direction of the toy department, study the goods, do endless mental calculations and then sulk because you won’t agree to a 2-year advance on allowance for a set that they will spend two hours constructing and then never look at again.
(And those of you without Lego consumers in your house – do you have any idea how expensive Legos are? Check it out.)
This structure doesn’t really do anything. The more expensive sets might move or have some aspect that lights up, but the point is this: the pieces you get go to build that particular set, which is not designed to do much except sit there and be looked at – you know, sort of like (SPOILER ALERT!) the dad’s in this movie. I’m sorry, but (SPOILER ALERT!) one of the reasons I was aghast at the gall of The Lego Movie was that the very attitude it was critiquing was the attitude that the corporation encourages: use these blocks to make this set and this set only. And then put it together and look at it.
I suppose you could see the film as a subversive nudge at that, but honestly, if so, it didn’t make any sense. Is the Lego corporation now turning around and selling less-expensive boxes full of random pieces, encouraging kids to be all creative?
Look. As I’ve been working on this blog post, I’ve been Tweeting and Facebooking about it as well, and it’s done nothing but deepen my aggravation.
The purported point of The Lego Movie is:
BE CREATIVE. FREE YOURSELF FROM THE INSTRUCTIONS.
(And yes, my children do all sorts of creative things with their Legos. Some sets stay constructed as is, (never Krazy Glued, though!) and some end up as something else. My point is about the corporation)
So here’s the bottom line.
Is @Lego, in conjunction with the inspiring message of The Lego Movie, releasing a set of moderately-priced random bricks collected with the intention of inspiring creativity? With no instructions?
No. Repeat. NO. @Lego is releasing yet more tightly designed sets that are oriented to recreating *one* scene in the movie and are fairly useless beyond that. Well, not *useless*, but let’s just say *expensively useful.*
With detailed instructions.
I wasn’t charmed or moved by The Lego Movie. I can’t even get to the purported theological aspects, so annoyed am I by the passive-aggressive marketing. There was no emotional connection between the creatures within the film or to me. It was as if McDonald’s had funded a movie about organic family farms and called it McDonald’s. My reaction was: “Lego, you are trying to play me, but it ain’t working.”
Also: where’s the wine?