Lego. In 3D. The ultimate in product placement.
There’s a villain on the loose. Lord Business (Will Ferrell) has found the Kraggle, a deadly weapon that can destroy the world. But Vitruvius (a wise Gandalf/ Dumbledore figure voiced by Morgan Freeman) knows how it can be stopped – with the Piece of Resistance, wielded by a special hero, The Special (cough cough).
Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt, the Parks and Recreation dude) is a construction worker. He’s a nice but boring and unoriginal guy who always follows his instruction manual. But things grow less ordinary when one day, while leaving his construction site, he’s distracted by a beautiful intruder with swirly hair – Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) – and promptly falls down a hole and lands beside the Piece of Resistance. Now wanted by Lord Business’ men, he’s got to escape with the help of Wyldstyle, a creative badass who bashes up the bad guys and builds motorcycles and cool shit. She fawns on him breathlessly, labouring under the assumption that he’s The Special – until it becomes clear that he’s less than average. But Emmet – with considerable help from Vitruvius, Wyldstyle, her douchey boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), a pink creature called Unikitty (Alison Brie) and a couple of other funny characters – saves the day (turns out all he had to do was believe in himself) and finds that being ordinary can sometimes be your best strategy.
For such a fun film with thrilling Lego landscapes, there’s plenty that’s wrong with it, but here I’ll focus on what made me want to barf the most. Wyldstyle is supercool and can clearly run circles around Emmet, but it turns out she isn’t The Special, like everyone thought. The movie’s hero turned out to be the stupid man whose ideas worked precisely because they were unbelievably dumb. Moreover, you’re told that Wyldstyle is a broken creature. That she’s so insecure that she’s changed her name countless times. There’s a point in the film when Emmet tells her he knows her toughness is only an act (but there’s no evidence of this). And in the end, her boyfriend tells her that Emmet is the man she deserves. She ends up with Emmet. Puke Puke Puke.
As for the Bechdel test, there are a handful of named female characters in the movie, but it’s really a Lego man’s world here. If you count Unikitty as being a female creature, then there’s a single line in the movie where she talks directly to Wyldstyle about something related to the mission they’re on to save their world. If you’re willing to count that, then perhaps the film passes. But I think I can safely say that it’s a spectacular #fail.
Before you say I’m judging unfairly because it’s “only a children’s film”, here’s a letter supposedly written by a 7-year-old just two weeks ago. How about some Lego women that actually go on to save the world next time?