The Lego Movie
At the beginning of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 21 Jump Street, their 2012 cop comedy that was a repurposing the television show that ran from 1987-1991, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), explains to two young cops (Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill) that they’re being assigned to a unit in which they’ll be impersonating high school students to investigate drug crimes. “We’re reviving a canceled undercover police program from the ’80s and revamping it for modern times,” Hardy says. “You see the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.” It was a very funny acknowledgement of the main objection that most people had posed to the very concept of a 21 Jump Street. But Hardy’s grumpiness also set a bar for the movie so low that Lord and Miller could leap over it with even more glee than an apocalyptically high Channing Tatum diving through a gong. If 21 Jump Street was proof that Lord and Miller could make a terrific, funny movie within the confines of Hollywood’s constricting business model, their follow-up, The LEGO Movie, released last weekend, proves something more ambitious: that the two men can take their industry’s obsession with pre-existing properties, sequels, Chosen One narratives, and overhyped emotions and make a surprising soulful movie out of all these tacky little pieces of plastic. The plot of The LEGO Movie is as follows. Emmet Brickowoski (Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt) is a happy, brainwashed construction worker LEGO who lives and works in Bricksburg, a city run by President Business (Will Ferrell). Business is a dictator who has homogenized culture to the point that there’s only one television show, an idiotic sitcom called Where Are My Pants, and a single hit song, the admittedly amazing “Everything Is Awesome,” made conformity the norm, and reduced his citizens’ identities to their interests, be it in...
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