The Lego Movie (Good Cop / Bad Cop Review)
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The Lego Movie opens with everyday blue collar worker Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) following instructions on how to be like everybody else. Some of these instructions include: greeting the day, consuming overpriced coffee (a thinly veiled jab at Starbucks), and listening repeatedly to the auto-tuned pop earworm “Everything is Awesome”. However this day is unlike any other. He encounters a mysterious figure (who the audience later discovers is Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and accidentally falls down the metaphorical rabbit hole and into an adventure, the likes of which he, and the audience, have never before encountered. He is informed by wizard-like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) that he is “the special” (a nod to many hero quests, including The Matrix), and must defeat megalomaniacal President Business (Will Ferrell). Before he can do so, he is captured by two-faced henchman Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson).
It is in the spirit of Bad Cop / Good Cop that we have decided to present this review in alternating takes befitting our mixed reaction to the movie.
The actors selected to voice each character gave performances derivative of previous roles. Chris Pratt essentially rehashes his oblivious, fun guy role from TV’s Parks and Recreation. Allison Brie voices Uni-Kitty, a character that bottles up unhappy feelings and only expresses happy ones. This role is essentially a riff on her eternal optimist character Annie on Community. Moreover, Nick Offerman’s pirate character Metalbeard ran far too close to man’s man Ron Swanson, also from Parks and Recreation. Lastly, Morgan Freeman revisited every Morgan Freeman role ever.
Bad Cop clearly missed a large reason why the film clicked with adult viewers. The actors were cast in their familiar roles *because* they could let loose, and laugh at themselves with the audience in a self-aware fashion. In particular, Morgan Freeman satirizes the sage role which audiences have grown accustomed to seeing him play. In addition, Chris Pratt is quite frankly perfectly cast as the heir to the throne of an Ibsen-like Master Builder. His intonations help deliver *Pratt falls* that land perfectly. And I could keep going…
Let me stop you right there. For a movie that purports to be celebrating the quality of being special and forging your own path, it is extremely imitative. The movie shoehorns in references to many other franchises, including DC Superheroes, Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons, and one that will really surprise audiences. However, the movie does not expound on their legacy, but simply chooses to send them up. I would have liked to have seen more originality in a movie that champions uniqueness.
The purpose of Lego, and the movie’s central message, is to embrace and encourage world- building. We cannot create the exceptional without having a pre-existing foundation upon which to assemble. With Lego sets, we begin with a set number of pieces and can imagine any number of possibilities of construction. It’s not just about the bricks, it’s how we put them together.
I felt like the pieces did not fit together. However, the movie had elements that can be built upon.
Like the song says, everything was awesome. I would say more, but I don’t want to micromanage.
Let’s go sit on our double-decker couch.
Written by Charles Trapunski and Leora Heilbronn