I think it’s fair to say I’m a big fan of Lego. It was one of my favourite toys when I was a kid and as soon as I saw the trailer for The Lego Movie all my old sets were brought out of the loft to be rebuilt. My excitement levels for this film are just as high as they are every time Marvel releases a new superhero film, which is a bit odd considering it’s for kids… or is it?
About a week ago I finally got to see The Lego Movie and I really enjoyed it. However, after I left the cinema I couldn’t help but think that the movie wasn’t really for children. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not me saying the film isn’t suitable for kids because it most certainly is. There’s plenty of action, silly visual gags and the end sort of has a moral which is pretty standard for a kids film, but The Lego Movie goes beyond this.
I truly think that adults will get as much, if not more, out of this film than kids will. On the surface the plot goes something like this: Bad guy is trying to destroy the world, an unassuming hero gets caught up in the mix and ends up saving the day while learning something new in the process. That’s the basics of it but watching the film you realise there is so much more. There’s a prophecy, talks of ‘The Special’, an underground rebellion and a weapon of enormous power that is actually something in disguise. And thats only some of it.
Honestly I don’t think a small child would be able understand the whole plot. Normally in an animated film aimed at children the story is clear enough for them to follow. Take Finding Nemo for example: Father travels across the ocean to be reunited with his son. There’s also a simple way to explain the plot for The Lego Movie, it’s basically a tale of Good Versus Evil, and kids watching the movie will get that. But they’ll miss all the other layers that go on top of that. It’s a bit like watching Inception for the first time, the pace is so fast that you kind of understand what’s going on but it’s not until later (or perhaps even the second viewing) that you start to work out the intricate details and what each sequence contributes to the overall story. Maybe I’m not being fair, perhaps today’s kids are smarter than I think they are but I don’t think I would have been able to keep up with this particular story as child.
Don’t think I’m having a dig at the writers by saying this. I actually think what they’ve done is really incredibly clever. Normally a kids film has a bog standard plot with a few subtle jokes thrown in that only parents will get. The writers of The Lego Movie have gone beyond this by creating a plot that children can follow at a basic level of action and comedy, while also creating a captivating story which will keep adults genuinely interested.
A lot of the humour is also aimed directly at adults too. Yes there’s plenty of slapstick which the younger viewers will love but there are quite a few jokes that I laughed at which the noisy row of kids in front me just didn’t get. Without spoiling anything how many eight year olds would know who Bruce Wayne was if he just appeared in a scene without much explanation? How many of them know that The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit films were shot in New Zealand? How many of them are familiar with Star Wars? The film is also very good at poking fun at Lego itself and the many people who grew up with toy and still collect the models as adults… says the guy who has just spent the past week rebuilding my old Hogwarts Castle set.
My one fear when The Lego Movie was announced was that it would be an amazing film if you were six but not much good if you were over the age of twelve. Thankfully this is not the case and it seems as though the entire movie was made as much for adults who grew up playing with Lego as the kids who are still playing with the toy today. Additionally, despite this being a film based on a toy, The Lego Movie does not feel like a 2 hour advert at all, yet somehow you’ll still come out of the cinema wanting to dig out your Lego sets.
To be honest I’m glad this film didn’t come out when I was a kid. If I had seen The Lego Movie at the age of ten I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. Sure I would have enjoyed it but I think it’s made more of an impression on me now than it would have as a kid. Really I owe a lot to Lego. When I was nine I saved up to buy The Lego Movie Maker which allowed you to make your own stop motion films and it was through this set that I started making my own films. Today, when I’m not touring round the country in musicals, the majority of my work is directing films and if I hadn’t made those basic stop motion films at such an early age I may never have made films. So yes, I may be really biased by liking this movie but I don’t really care. The Lego Movie is the film I always wanted to make as a kid and now as an adult I actually get to see it.
In the end though it’s not just about my experience, it’s about everyone who sees the film. Overall I think the makers of the movie have hit the nail on the head with this film and every studio making kids films should look to The Lego Movie as a great example of a family film. It’s the perfect mix for kids and “grown-ups” and really is fun for all the family.