Grown Up Talk: The Lego Movie
The word is out. It’s true. You can make a great movie about Legos. For those who have seen The Lego Movie, you understand why it’s as famous as it is. If you have not seen it and don’t want it to be spoiled, then wait to read this article until after you’ve seen it. You’ve been warned.
If you’ve seen the film, you know that there’s more to this Lego world than what we’re seeing. Along the way, you probably realized through either the simple and juvenile dialogue or the fact that they’re toys, that most likely a child is playing with the Legos and through his or her imagination is creating this Lego universe. It’s no surprise later on to discover that you were right. What you probably weren’t expecting was all the other connections between the Legos and the real world, namely The Man Upstairs.
This is the moment the film becomes more than just a children’s movie, and instead becomes a message for all the adults in the audience who had to come because their kids wanted to see it, and for those who wanted to see what all the hype was about. Although the most obvious message is one that we’ve heard before, spend time with your children while you can, there’s something more that we need to talk about.
Once we get to that part toward the end of the movie, where Emmett sees Finn for the first time, we discover that this whole Lego world, the entire story, is being created through the imagination of a child who ties in his experiences in his world to the world he’s created. The major one is Lord Business aka The Man Upstairs aka Finn’s dad. Like Lord Business, Finn sees his dad as being strictly a rule follower, that there’s a structured way of doing everything, and in essence believes that everyone should follow the guidelines. That it’s the way the world works. So with this mindset, let’s look again at The Lego Movie.
In the beginning we’re introduced to construction worker Emmet Brickowski who wakes up in the morning, and follows a set of rules in order to get ready for the day. Let’s just call this his “routine”. In order to achieve his perfect day, he has to follow the routine in order to “fit in, have everybody like you, and always be happy”. Already we’re seeing a connection to Finn’s life. Although his father’s career is never mentioned, it’s safe to assume that he’s a business man (considering the fact that his Lego self is called Lord Business who is the president of Octan Corporation “and the world”). Although it’s not true of all business people, the stereotypical presumptions on their morning activities are continuously presented in multiple films, The Lego Movie being one of them. They start with a workout, take a shower, groom, and eat breakfast with their families. Then there’s always the part in the movie where the business person steps out of their homes and greets all their neighbors like they do every morning before going to work (this is starting to sound like The Truman Show).
The drive that Emmet takes to work also seems familiar. While dropping off his stuff at the dry cleaners and reading the headlines he’s also listening to the “top of the charts” song again. And again. He’s also surrounded by people who sing the song again. And again. Although somewhat blown out of proportion, this is definitely a reflection of our world. Do you know how many times “Wrecking Ball” was played when it first came out? Too many. And what’s a morning without buying a cup of ridiculously overpriced coffee (Starbucks) and being happy about it?
Finally, Emmet arrives at work. the “Everything is Awesome” song playing in the background. There his coworkers are discussing the latest episode of Where are My Pants?, a late night comedy show that continuously tells the same joke with canned laughter in the background being activated at parts that aren’t even funny. Let’s not forget the after work activities, going to the sports bar, eating chicken wings “and go(ing) crazy!”
Now, it’s a safe bet that some or all of this is close to how the average worker spends his workday, including in this instance Finn’s dad. By Finn constantly experiencing this in his life, he recreates it in the Lego world. There’s something wrong with this argument, however. If Finn is role-playing his father’s routine based life in his playtime, why do all the characters experience it except Lord Business who’s based off his dad?
The answer has actually already been given. Lord Business, on his morning announcement, declared himself to not only be president of the Octan Company, but also the world. When we’re young, our perception of the world is very limited for the most part. We know there’s a great big world out there and that one day we’ll experience it fully, but for that moment in time our world consists of school, friends, and our family. For what we see of Finn’s world, in the ten minutes or so that we’re in it, we learn that his world consists of his love of Legos, a mother who makes his favorite tacos on Tuesdays, a little sister who also loves playing with Legos, and a father who has an obsession with the colorful bricks and their proper placement in their respected worlds. Finn and his father possess a similar passion, and Finn is amazed at what his father can do with them, although he’s sad that his building is limited to what the directions say to do. To Finn, his dad is the master builder, “the special”, the ruler of the world; his world. He respects his father, and loves him even though his dad squelched his creativity. And since his father is the “ruler” of his world, Finn must abide by his rules much like the Lego citizens have to obey Lord Business.
After that pretty standard day at work, Emmet’s life spirals out of control and goes in a pretty crazy direction. Reality doesn’t set back in again until we meet Finn and his dad. However, the way that Finn incorporates so much of what he sees and lives daily into those first moments of the movie is pretty amazing.
Which, when we look back at the film says a lot about how a kid views the world.
As adults, we often forget how perceptive children can be, that they see more than what we give them credit for. Any child that is in our lives, whether they be ours or not, watch what we do, how we act, and learn from it. Whether it be a good or bad thing is up to us. What we also must remember is that although children learn from us, we can learn from them. Together we live a never-ending cycle of learning and re-learning from childhood to adulthood. Finn learns how to appreciate the Lego set designs, and his father re-learns how to appreciate the creativeness that can come from them. In the end they learn how to appreciate each other as father and son, and as master builders.
What do you think? Leave a comment.