So, the Oscars just aired a couple of weeks back and I had one primary thought about the program. Why was The Lego Movie (2014) not nominated for Best Animated Film? While I think Big Hero 6 (2014) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) were both good animated films with a lot of heart, The Lego Movie was truly innovative and remarkable.
Having grown up with Legos and spending a small fortune on those tiny little blocks over my lifetime, I was admittedly not really enthusiastic about there being a feature film revolving around the colorful bricks. In fact, I felt like it was a cash grab and an excuse to make more Lego sets (as if a reason needed to exist for that). I mean, how do you make an entire movie based on Legos? Much less, an original movie based on Legos!
Well, comedic directorial tag team, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord found the formula.
Step One: Take everything you know from having ever built or played with a Lego set and throw it in a blender.
Step Two: Use top notch animation that is so good you think you may be watching stop motion film-making with Legos.
Step Three: Hire the best comedic actors you can find and dash in A-list talent like Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson.
Step Four: Add a touch of whimsy that combines the nostalgia of the viewer’s youth while also reaching the generation currently rocking the Lego building sets (there may be a bit of a cross over in this group).
Add this all together with one major twist (which I will not spoil… so no spoiler warning needed) and you get a fantastic movie. Not only do you get a fantastic movie, you also get a movie that ended up making over 250 million dollars in the US box office. That’s enough to be in the Top 5 grossing films of 2014!
What other movie have you ever seen with interactions between Batman, Han Solo and a Unicorn Cat? What if I told you that this same movie would have Michelangelo (the Ninja Turtle) and Michelangelo (the painter) in the same scene? Genius!
Yet apparently, that is NOT enough to get an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film! It is good enough, however to get a nomination for Best Original Song. So with that being said, I am now going to step onto a soap box and preach to the choir regarding the nomination of “Everything is Awesome” for Best Original Song. First, check out the song itself below and then continue reading.
Ok, you’re back. So what did you think? Pretty awesome, right? I agree, it is a catchy, catchy tune. It burrows its way right into your brain and doesn’t let go (sorry about that by the way, you undoubtedly have it stuck in your head now). Yet it is also the antithesis of the film itself. The fact that the song was even nominated, whilst the film itself was not nominated for Best Animated Film, seems to imply that the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences missed the point of the movie. Again, avoiding spoilers, “Everything is Awesome” is really about how NOT awesome it is to be a conformist. The whole point of the movie is that conforming to every little thing in your life is the same as being glued in place. “Everything is Awesome” is the theme song of being generic and corporate. So in theory, the Academy is advocating conformity and shunning originality. Lord Business would be proud…
On a side note… I really like the song.
*Steps off soap box*
Regardless, The Lego Movie really did deserve to at least be nominated for the honor of Best Animated Film. The story and plot are told with such grace that you forget you are watching a movie about little brick people and their little brick world. It is a testament to Chris Pratt and team that these are fully realized characters, with real motivations. It would have been easy to make this a generic kiddy film, but the love for the property and the story really shines. It is no surprise that Lord and Miller are on point with their comedic timing, since the duo’s efforts in 21 Jump Street (2012) made that one of the best comedies in the last five years. They get meta, and that is exactly what this movie needed.
So while we may never have an Oscar for a movie property based on a million, tiny, modular bricks… we are all better for having experienced The Lego Movie, which really is awesome.
What is even more awesome, is that The Lego Movie is available here at the Chesapeake Public Library and that we have a ton of Lego builder programs throughout the year. Stop by sometime and learn more and get those future master builders of yours involved in building the future!
Post Script: It would be remiss of me not to mention the passing of Leonard Nimoy last week (Feb. 27, 2015). Nimoy was not only a legend to the field of science fiction, but also a real pop culture icon and a great individual. It is very telling of his personality that the last Star Trek movie he directed (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) was all about saving humpback whales. Leonard Nimoy was just that kind of guy.
When I made my last post regarding The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit last month and posted that fantastic Nimoy video, I had no idea I would be writing about his passing just one short month later.
Leonard Nimoy will be remembered not only for the character he pioneered, but for the man he was.