Making the Grades
The Lego Movie uses building blocks to pose an interesting dilemma: When do you follow the instructions and when do you disregard them?
When builders first started snapping the colorful blocks together in the 1950s, there weren’t a lot of instructions—or a lot of options when it came to the pieces. Things have changed dramatically in the last 60 years. Now Lego blocks come in kits with specific instructions for constructing the item shown on the outside of the box. For those who like order in their lives, this marketing approach is perfect. Unfortunately, those who want to use their own imaginations may find the instructions to be a little stifling.
In The Lego Movie, Emmett Brickowoski (voice of Chris Pratt) is one of those construction minifigures who follows the instruction booklet religiously. As a result of their coordinated efforts, he and the other construction characters are able to assemble impressive structures for their leader President Business (voice by Will Ferrell).
However, everything is not well in the Lego universe. And one day after Emmett mistakenly falls down a hole in the ground, he discovers an entire group of Master Builders. Among them are ninja fighter WyldStyle (voice of Elizabeth Banks), Batman (voice of Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum) Unikitty (voice of Alison Brie), Gandalf (voice of Todd Hansen) and their leader Vitruvius (voice of Morgan Freeman). Vitruvius tells Emmett he is the chosen one—the Special Master Builder who will save everyone from the diabolical deeds of President Business and his Bad Cop (voice of Liam Nesom). But being called “special” is a pretty heady experience for this average guy.
We’ve seen plenty of toy-inspired movies lately like Transformers and G.I. Joe, although most of these franchises are aimed at an older crowd. So parents will be pleased to know The Lego Movie will likely be suitable for the slightly younger 8-and-up crowd. They won’t get all of the jokes, yet there are enough explosions, action and peril to keep the majority of kids entertained.
Surprisingly, it is adults who will probably have the most fun in this film, especially if they’ve played with Lego. It’s apparent someone behind this script knows his or her way around the toy. The items in the Hall of Relics are the kind of objects that mysteriously show up in the bottom of every Lego storage box: discarded bandages, misplaced game pieces, even a 9-volt battery. And the parade of Lego characters in this story includes a whole new set of figures, along with resurrecting some old ones.
With a creative marketing team behind the release, Warner Bros. and The Lego Group are set to further promote the movie by releasing 17 building sets based on scenes from the movie. They are also launching 16 new collectable minifigures including Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Taco Tuesday Guy and Scribble-Face Bad Cop.
Because they are made of plastic and plastic doesn’t bleed, there’s no gore in this film. Still, there are explosions, simulated fire, bullets and some moments of peril for the little figures. At least one character also dies.
Luckily the real message of this story is about embracing your own creativity. While following the instructions has its place, Emmett discovers the real joy of building when he finally tosses the booklet aside.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Lego Movie.
Why does Emmett want to believe he is special even though he is a very average guy? Why does Lord Business say that you don’t get a trophy for just showing up? How do he and other characters define someone who is not ordinary? What is your definition of special?
What does this film say about the importance of creativity? What have the master builders in this story done to hone their creative skills? When is following the instructions a better option? What are the limitations of only following the instruction booklet?
How are television and music portrayed in this movie? Why are they so “vanilla”? How can pop culture become so concerned with appealing to the masses that it loses all its imagination?
Learn more about the creative building blocks called LEGO.