Mild use of spoilers. You’ll survive.
Having finally seen box office hit and destined future-cult-favorite The Lego Movie, I have to reluctantly admit: this movie is awe— I mean, fantastic. And that’s from someone who went into it expecting to absolutely hate it based on the trailers.
It’s one of the better animated films I’ve seen in a long while (#sorrynotsorry, Frozen, and your weak characters and script). As retread as many of the jokes were, I laughed out loud more times than I have at any movie in a while. The story has a surprising allegorical side that was smart enough to impress my friends and me but simple enough to (I imagine) strike a chord with the much younger majority of the audience.
That said: yes, The Lego Movie is one long advertisement. The first two acts let you think that you’re watching a clever and impressive CGI/stop-motion cross-over that’s as witty as it is thrilling, but then the third act comes around and BAM, you realize that you just paid $15 (advice: just pay $10 for the 2D version) to be advertised to for nearly two hours. The tone changes: suddenly your heart is being warmed and your mind is being inspired and a little voice somewhere inside is whispering “Buy LEGO. Buy LEGO today. Buy it for your children because you love them. Buy it for yourself because you have imagination that deserves to be expressed. Buy it for everyone you’ve ever known to save your fragile universe from destruction at the hands of a grand villain voiced by Will Ferrell.”
It’s not just an advertisement; it’s the best advertisement I’ve ever seen. I don’t just mean in terms of product placement or, more specifically, native advertising. Lego is a beautiful piece of marketing that I’m willing to bet will actually work on millions of families around the world.
But wait a minute.. The entire plot is anti-commercialism and anti-monoculture. The primary villain is named President Business (I told you the allegory was pretty simple, didn’t I?), for crying out loud. How are we supposed to take the message seriously when it’s being delivered to us in a format that might as well have the LEGO logo super-imposed in the bottom-right corner? How is there any meaning in a creativity parable that asks us to all go buy the same product when the holidays come around?
Is that what Christmas is really all about, Charlie Brown?