THE LEGO MOVIE – it’s okay to play

This could be the start of something very big.

This could be the start of something very big.

Hundreds of people have spent a good part of this decade in dark, windowless rooms, doing tedious, repetitive, painstaking, frustratingly detailed work. Our son was one of the captives. The result is The Lego Movie.

So it was a moving experience to sit in a dark, windowless cinema crowded with hundreds of those people, the staff of Australian production company Animal Logic that made the film, as for the first time they shared the show with their families.

The Lego Movie is already taking the world by storm, but it will be next month before it is publicly screened in Sydney where the work was done.

We loved it. No, really, we did.

It’s not the first time Mevrouw T and I have watched a film our son has worked on – The Last Samurai, King Kong, Happy Feet, The Legend of the Guardians…we know he’s tried his hardest to do his job well, but the final products fell a little short of our hopes. We were proud to see his name roll up in the credits all the same.

I have a theory that animation people, like puppeteers and computer nerds, are boffins. They get excited about how faithfully they can replicate feathers, clouds, hair or James Cagney – or James Cagney’s hair – and forget that they are supposed to be telling a story.

A notable exception to this is Pixar. Pixar film-makers know what to leave out. Their stories are clear and disciplined and the frames are free of extraneous detail.

If I applied analytical criteria to The Lego Movie I should have hated it. The story is confusing and apparently haphazard. ‘Everything is Awesome’ is the theme tune. ‘Less is More but More Still is Even More than Less’ could be its motto.

Every shot is packed full of far too much detail to take in at one viewing. Our family crew member was slightly disappointed that they didn’t make more (during one of the many chase/shoot ’em up scenes) of the collateral damage pig splattering on the ground and turning into sausages. I didn’t even notice the pig.

Defying the conventions of good screen storytelling becomes the point of The Lego Movie. We’re supposed to be cheering for those who refuse to follow the instructions on the box and instead make up their own inventions, be they flying getaway cars or a cast of heroes featuring a generic Lego figure, Batman and a half-cat, half-unicorn from Cloud Cuckoo Land. And cheer for them we do.

The movie is like a kid playing with the coloured blocks, making it all up as he goes along and suddenly as it turns out…spoiler alert! I’m saying no more.

Suffice it to say that you can build almost anything with Lego. This movie has almost certainly been the first building block in what will become a massive world-wide empire.

And why not? It’s a lot of fun. Make sure you see it, and wait in the cinema to applaud long and loud when the Post Technical Services credit rolls.

Here’s the YouTube promo Behind the Bricks:

STOP PRESS: And in today’s news – The Lego Movie 2 will also be made by in Sydney by Animal Logic. The producers didn’t say it in so many words, but they found everything in our local Post Production Technical Services awesome.


Filed under Writing

5 responses to “THE LEGO MOVIE – it’s okay to play

  1. Looks like a lot of fun Richard. I could have made a lego cake in chocolate in celebrate!!! 🙂
    regards, Therese

  2. A friend of mine edited “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” He told me it was the most expensive animated film every made, partly due to the fact that a new studio head came aboard two or three months into production, took one look at the work that had been done and said: “Where’s the story?” Back to square one. I’m sure it is not the first time that has happened in Hollywood, but you would think someone might have noticed there was no story BEFORE green lighting the production.

    • Curiously, or not so curiously, John, The Lego Movie directors also directed Cloudy…Meatballs. Maybe having no story is their trademark. In any case, it’s worked well in The Lego Movie.

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