What I love about The LEGO Movie is its humor, the cast, and its message. It does not treat the audience like morons but has no raunchy overtones like Shrek. This falls into the Wall-E good category.
The cast is well placed and perform very well. Morgan Freeman is a great voice over, as is Will Ferrell, Chris Pratt, and Will Arnet. Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson cannot be forgotten either. With this kind of cast, it will either suck or be great and LEGO Movie is the latter.
The message is pretty great. As discussed in the podcast, it is about being yourself. Do what makes you you, even if it is making a double-decker couch, which served a purpose.
I like a lot of comedies and felt since it was an Oscar snub, a discussion on it was worthy. The bad thing was the kid actor, which inevitable gave it its B+ grade.
Hope you all like the discussion. There's a Sean and Phil mentioning along with a shout out to Joe and the "Schmidt Standard."
This will be shorter than I usually write, but that's not because I'm not a big fan of the LEGO Movie, because I am. I did get out a lot of my thoughts in the podcast, but there's still plenty to talk about.
To paraphrase my opening podcast comment (which I also cribbed from my Letterboxd review (shameless plug)), the unlikely success of the LEGO Movie basically blows up my expectations for a project like this. A toy company contracting with a major studio for a February release is basically an automatic three strikes against a film, but with the cast of awesome people and self-aware masters Phil Lord and Chris Miller, it instead acknowledges its weaknesses, embraces its background, and cranks out a constantly hilarious, smartly plotted movie.
The joke density is the best part of the LEGO Movie. There's nonstop stuff happening in the background, from Vitruvius hugging a pig in Old West Land to said pig exploding into sausages when it falls to its death. The embrace of the LEGO restrictions is consistently funny, while also triggering some K2 flashbacks (Thanks, Geoff). The actors all hit the perfect parts of their personas, making funny lines funnier. Morgan Freeman undercuts his natural gravitas, Liam Neeson cranks up his Taken-ness while portraying the exact opposite often in the same breath, Allison Brie alternates between adorable and explosive, Charlie Day's irrepressible joy gets to come out, and Will Arnett's false sense of self-worth makes him the best Batman of the 21st century. Every line that comes out of President Business's mouth makes me laugh, as over-the-top Will Ferrell is my favorite Will Ferrell, and Chris Pratt is a respectable lead, though I think his strength comes from physical comedy, as anyone who has seen Andy Dwyer flip himself over a desk will agree. All the laughs have been squeezed out of the script, and the actors add even more.
After how funny it is, The LEGO Movie's next biggest noteworthy item is the big reveal. The premise that all this insanity has been taking place in the mind of a kid playing with a giant LEGO collection is pretty inspired, and then adding in the family dynamic where said kid is depicting his father as the villain makes this a twist that enriches everything that comes before. Where I think the movie falls down a bit is also contained in this twist. If it ended once real-life Ferrell realizes the Lord Business man looks just like him, it would've hit a lot harder as Ferrell and the kid both sell the poignancy of that moment with their faces. Instead, they keep talking and explain what was made clear second before. Lord and Miller don't quite have the courage of their convictions and I think it blows the scene a bit. There's also the criticism-proof-ness of this reveal, such that all the nonsense in the plot can be explained away by saying "All this is taking place in a kid's head, so don't think too hard about the story." That's a smaller complaint, and I don't really think all that nonsense exists in the first place, but if it's in your movie, it has to be acknowledged.
The main thematic point I take away from The LEGO Movie is the need for artists and engineers, leaders and followers. A world full of artists leads to the chaos of Cloud Cuckoo-Land, while a world full of engineers leads to the rigid banality of Bricksburg. There has to be a balance. That said, I also think the themes are either muddled or I disagree with them on a half-thought out level. I like that Emmett's special-ness is in how average he is; he's only special when he's around all these creative types who can barely function when they need to work as a team. But by the end, Emmett has learned to be a master builder, and I'm not really sure where that fits. Lord Business also throws out a line about there being 'no participation trophies here.' That's a solid joke made many times before about feel-goodery around children, but since the villain is saying this, is the movie refuting that idea? Maybe you guys have put more thought into it than I have, and can clear this up for me. Ultimately, I think it's a little overstuffed. Pick a path and stick to it.
The LEGO Movie is a very strong B+, the kind of movie that if it came up on TV, would likely be left on until it ended. I bet I'd pick something new up every time I watched it. I don't think it's quite funny enough to be that rare A-level comedy, and while novel and clever, doesn't hit the poignant or emotional stuff hard enough for me. I do have one final question: what kind of monster would dare to glue LEGO pieces together?
They are not toys, it's a highly sophisticated interlocking brick system.
Has there ever been a podcast that didn't feature the line, "you can edit that out" or "we'll edit that in post" or something along those lines? Does it ever get edited.
To answer the Oscar snub Drew raised to open the show, I think the answer is Kissel's expectations for the movie. My assumption is the Academy saw the movie as a corporate commercial and chose not to reward it as such. Similarly, when the comic movies that have been deserving, Dark Knight, Guardians, possibly Avengers depending on competition that year have had difficulty breaking into the Academy for anything other than special effects and Ledger's transcendant performance which I'm certain would've come up short had he not died right after.
Raphael is the most overrated turtle, he's dark and brooding ooooh. He's a hothead who is not a team player. Mikey is nothing more than comic relief. Donatello is the most underrated turtle. I've always rejected the notion that Donatello was hated because he was a nerd but because kids think the Bo is a lame weapon. In the original turtles Nintendo game, the range on that Bo was badass. But Leo is the correct answer, he's the leader does everything he can to keep the team together and makes the right decisions. Donatello is almost 1B because he's the assistant captain that reigns in the extreme personalities of Raph and Mikey.
Back to Legos, A theme that seemed to hold the movie back for you guys was "Show don't tell" Remember, this is a children's movie and kids are dumb. While the parents in the room can handle "Show" kids need "Tell" Braden is a genius but he doesn't understand metaphors and had they no gone through the thorough explanation we would have ended with "Who was that guy"
I'm typing this as I listen, Drew referring to Elizabeth Banks being able to "Give the fun as well as take the fun" that's how I like my women too..
Was the Kissel joke "Lewkwarm at best on Jews in general"
It wasn't me who brought up the technicality of animation. But stop motion movies have been nominated before. Computer animated- 30 nominees; Stop-motion- 9 nominees; Traditionally animated- 16 nominees.
Ferrel has done drama within a comedy a couple times, one I can think of is Stranger than Fiction and that movie was terrible.
When Drew asked the Samuel L question I immediately thought of the word gravitas just like Jon.
Wet Hot American Summer is waaaaaaay better than Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit is not even a very good movie. It's the exact corny garbage one note movie that I hate.
Good job on the pod.
Lego movie was a lot of fun. We have talked repeatedly about rewatchability and whether that was important. For a comedy it is important, I give bonus points to comedies that I can pick up nuance over time and rewatch whenever I see them on. Comedies also get bonus points for both quotability and how much it becomes a thing within pop culture. I still do "fat guy little coat" at least twice a year and you can bet when I will lose an exacto knife at some time and request that someone bring me the sword of exact zero.
For those reasons it's worth the A-.
It was in reference to the Braveheart discussion. A sixteen year old who likes history is going to be into Braveheart, and possible also be lukewarm on Jews at best. Mel Gibson dig, a little tortured, but I stand by it.
Reply to "It was in reference to the Braveheart discussion. A sixteen year old who likes history is going to be into Braveheart, and possible also be lukewarm on Jews at best. Mel Gibson dig, a little tortured, but I stand by it."
This should show up under Braveheart!
Who is Michael H?
Who are you, Drew?
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I have no idea how this movie rates with kids. I'll have to ask Jane in a couple years. I can see the humor over and over and over, but it's just too over the top for me. A constant barage of 5 year old comedy and try to hard puns does not make for an enjoyable movie. I was exhausted after the first 15 minutes.
I found the animation/stop-motion to be incredible, but that was the most redeeming quality of the movie. I may have given two or three "heh's" on a couple of jokes.
LEGO Movie will fall into the Frozen, Tangled, and Brave. I can't recommend it to anyone the first time, but odds are it will grow on me. I'll start with a C.
I was disappointed in Brave. Finally Disney has a strong female lead who doesn't need a man to save her. To bad her movie sucked.
I fell asleep the first time through. Haven't seen it since.
This is exactly how I picture older (which is to say, most of them) Academy members reacting to the movie.
The Lego Movie is far better than it has any right to be. (Kissel really set the plate to allow me to easily sum up my thoughts with that sentence.) It’s a fun concept with great characters and mind-blowing animation, but does have some issues with some of the jokes just not working on me and that ending is a little more bothersome on a second viewing.
I won’t belabor the point too much, but when you hear about a Lego movie coming out in February directed by the Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs guys and Andy Dwyer at the helm, you temper expectations. This could have easily been a cash grab. However, it’s fantastic all-in-all. Chris Pratt as Emmet plays a straight everyman that is easy to root for and very relatable. Lord Business is a solid cartoon villain that ultimately earns the redemption he gets. Wyldstyle is easily the most surprising of the three leads though, having a number of solid running jokes and getting a lot of great material to work with. It would have been very easy just to have her as the one-note bad ass, but her role is packed with great jokes involving her name and Batman. Meanwhile, we have a large number of side characters primarily around for comic relief, but each is very funny and gets a great moment at some point – I particularly loved when Benny finally got to build his spaceship.
Also as mentioned earlier, this sucker is PACKED with jokes. I love a lot of the running gags that are used just the right amount of times, such as Wyldstyle’s name, shit popping up out of nowhere and freaking Batman out, and really anything Batman does. (I’m really curious how the Lego Batman movie is going to go… That’s a character that might work better on the side as opposed to in a starring role.) Really, the only jokes that fall flat are the “kiddie” jokes. I thought all of those were pretty poorly executed.
I did like the story that stresses the theme of what great people can accomplish when they work together. This is really driven home with the submarine, but in a society that puts so much emphasis on individuality and how everyone is a winner, it was nice to see a movie where it took a team to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal. And then Emmet saves the day alone at the end. Or he sparks it at least. I think I understand Kissel’s gripe there. That is a little strange. What made Emmet special was that he was able to work together with others and essentially “follow the rules,” but it seemed like there needed to be some sort of ending that made him super special to show some kind of growth. It doesn’t necessarily detract from the overall experience, but it’s strange.
Before wrapping up, I have to comment on the animation. Doing everything with a Lego feel makes for some fantastic animation. I loved the water/smoke effects, and the action scenes involving hundreds of lasers and quick cuts looked particularly fantastic.
Overall, I loved The Lego Movie. It’s an easy movie to drop into at any point when channel surfing, which is extremely important for a comedy. I liked all the characters and all the humor works well, until they try humor for their seemingly intended audience. The ending is a little off from the rest of the movie, but that doesn’t really hurt the overall experience.
+ Ton of fun
+ Great characters
+ Animation is awesome
- Kid humor seems off
- Weird ending
This movie will hold a special place in my memory, not because it is great (which it is), funny (which it is), or has a good message (which it does). I have watched many movies, sometime dozens of times, with Tommy. We have laughed at them and he has requested some, and said yes when I recommend one. But this movie is the first one we have both laughed at, at some of the same jokes, and when it was over it was the first one Tommy quoted to me. It honestly took me a second to figure out what he was doing the first time he did it. But then in a loud clear toddler's voice he cried out "honey where are my paaaaannnts" head shake and all. Now I has happy when Tommy learned how to walk, I was profoundly excited when he quoted his first movie. I had recognized for the first time the passing down of a passion of mine to my son. Since then other movies have had very quotable lines and had Tommy excitedly pointing out lines or jokes to me if he has seen the movie before me but LEGO was the first.
Anyway on to the review. I didn't give this movie much credit prior to seeing it having heard of the very crappy jokes about the cloak of bandaid and the polish remover of loreal. Meh seemed lazy. But I gave it a go after a sale at Target on the blu ray. The action and jokes come at a very spastic rate. So fast that for the first 6 times through the opening 10-15 minutes it was hard to believe how many new things I caught every time. This continues at a somewhat slower pace throughout the movie. This definitely lends rewatchability to the film.
The animation is truly incredible. Especially on blu ray. The amount of detail is astounding. While novel animation is good enough to get me to watch a movie it has to have more substance behind it to make me enjoy it. This movie has it.
The message is also not one always heard in American culture. To quote Tyler Durden "you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake" but (the LEGO movie make the other assumption in the logical sequence in this case) this is OK. You have things to offer this world. It is a simple message but it has to be with so much superfluous one liners, gags, and seizure inducing chase scenes that only a simple message could tie it together.
Oh and let your kids play with legos... and not just because of the awkward ass hug Ferrell lays on that kid.
Oh A would watch it tomorrow if tommy wanted to
Thinking more fully about LEGO and Fight Club they are actually very similar movies... a man seemingly in love with the status quo. gets involved with a group of people and goes on a mind bending plot to destroy the current ideology of the government. I can see Emmitt turning to wildstyle at the end and telling her "you met me at a very strange time in my life". Hmmm maybe we should flesh this out a bit more.
wow, Lego Movie and Fight Club, it works.
I have to admit that I was worried after the first fifteen minutes or so. The jokes were falling flat, the blockish animation (although refreshing to see something different) was distracting and I definitely felt that it was going to be a movie only entertaining for kids, and here I am, a 30+-year-old guy watching it alone on a Saturday evening.
But it surprised me. After awhile, the animation wasn’t a problem, the jokes were more tolerable (some were actually funny) and the story improved. At first, it was just another: bad guy wants to rule, there’s a prophecy, good guys have to stop him. Seen it. But then toward the end it introduced the parallel universe of the dad and his kid. I was thinking Ugh when I first saw Will Ferrell, but it was nice seeing him in a non-typical Will Ferrell role (I only find him funny in small doses so avoid all his starring-role movies). But this was a nice change.
I loved the nostalgic feeling at seeing some of the older pieces: the spaceman, the Duplo pigs, the round trees. It definitely reminded me of the old days before all the themed Lego sets where we had to imagine and create everything. And the relics from the other world were just as amusing. Release the Kragle! I thought the "resistance" being the cap to the crazy glue was pretty clever.
It started slow, but finished strong. I would watch it again when kids come in the future. Grade: A-
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