It is not just for kids! The Lego Movie was one of the best movies to come out in a long while… so good I saw it twice in the theater. This CG’d stop-motion non-stop action comedy’s got jokes, and so much more! The fast paced action and silliness combined with impressive demonstrations of the ancient toy’s creative potential will keep kids entertained while a red pill of truth is slipped in for the adults. Every scene is bursting with colorful meaning and laughter.
On one level, The Lego Movie is an early 21st century American social commentary. The issues facing the Lego Universe are our issues. The main character, Emmet Brickowoski, is an ordinary trendy guy who lives in a media saturated culture and goes along with the crowd without thinking too much about the problems facing his society. The media he takes in buries the hints of coming destruction in superficial nonsense. He has an instruction booklet that tells him exactly what to do all day long, and life is great as long as he follows all the rules. The Theme song sums it up: “Everything is Awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team! Everything is awesome, when you’re living a dream!” And everyone in Emmet’s city, Bricksburg, is living a dream. They seem to be a happy, but it’s a fake prosperity, the freedoms are hollow, and it is increasingly controlled by a growing super secret police state. President Business’s Octan corporation owns all businesses from the shallow media to overpriced coffee to (rigged) voting machines. Every day Emmet and other construction workers go out to build stuff, and every evening after they head home, President Business’s military industrial complex flies in to destroy their work. There is no progress. There is only an endless cycle of consumerism and waste that empowers President Business and allows him to control the people of the Lego Universe. President Business is actually “Lord Business,” the control-freak Demiurge with the horns of Baphomet who desires his particular version of “perfection” to be imposed on the universe. He has a dark plan to whip the inhabitants of Bricksburg into a state of elation through Taco Tuesday (government welfare) and freeze them in place with The Kragle (Krazy Glue).
However not everyone is content to go along with the highly controlled society created by Lord Business. A small group of rebels, superheroes, and free thinkers called the Master Builders (a nod to masonry?) refuse to follow the instructions and build whatever they want whenever they want out of anything. They rely on their own creativity, intuition, and training (in sacred geometry?) to travel between the various realms of the Lego Universe. They are not dulled by the consumerist media driven society of Bricksburg, but they operate at an elevated level of consciousness. They see what no one else can see. One by one, Lord Business has been capturing the free thinkers and imprisoning them in his “think tank” where he steals their ideas and uses them to tighten his grip on power. The sage leader of the Master Builders is Vitruvius. (Vitruvius was an engineer and architect under Julius Caesar who’s work inspired Leonardo da Vinci to draw the famous “Vitruvian Man”, an exploration through art and science of the geometric perfection of man.) Vitruvius guards the Piece of Resistance (cap to the Krazy Glue), but when it is lost, he utters a made up prophecy about a future Messiah… which “must be true because it rhymes.” His prophecy becomes a religion that causes the ordinary man, Emmet, to begin to see himself as special (Emmet = I’m IT). In the end, it comes out that the prophecy was made up, but the truth remains that every man is special and every man has the creative intuition necessary to break out of Lord Business’s idea of “perfection”. The prophecy was made up to help the ordinary man see this and find the piece of resistance. Emmet’s journey to becoming the Messiah of the Lego Universe begins with him believing that he is special and that he can trust his own divine spark of unique creative intuition.
Emmet’s journey begins when love and curiosity cause him to deviate from the rules. After taking a fall down the rabbit hole, he stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance and when he steps on his fears and touches it, he has a mystical psychedelic near-death experience that gives him a vision of the greater reality. Thenceforward the Piece of Resistance is stuck to him, and he is set on a path that expands his consciousness and makes it impossible for him to return to his previously ordinary unobtrusive mundane life.
Emmet and his crush, Wild-Style (or Lucy…Lucifer…Light-Bearer), go on grand adventures together through the various realms of the Lego Universe. In the realm of Cloud Cuckoo Land, they meet Princess Unikitty, a new-agey type whose willful repression of anything negative results in a schizo-personality. Cloud Cuckoo Land demonstrates the absurdity of a heaven without hell, the silliness of positivity without negativity, left without right, and freedom without restraint. Cloud Cuckoo Land is just as ridiculous as Lord Business’s polar opposite attempt to freeze a perfectly controlled society. The message is clear that dualism exists and the way to defeat dualism is not to try and gravitate to one pole or the other. The way it is defeated is through balance, creativity, being un-resistant to change, belief, and love.
The battle for the future of The Lego Universe is a great story and like all great stories, it is about the conflicts within our own society, our own universe, and ultimately the battle within ourselves. Left-brains want to control, to bring order, to color inside the lines, to follow instructions. Right-brains want to throw away the rules and be creative, rely on intuition, and make something new. It is only when there is balance between the left and right, order and chaos, logic and creativity, control and freedom, that a truly glorious and dynamic story exists. Our society, like Bricksburg, is pathologically left-brained and it is up to us individual Specials to restore balance, peace, harmony, and love.