Sunday, 23 February 2014

Everything is Awesome

If you have seen the film then you already know what I am talking about and, if you haven't, then you will probably at least know of the song and may be dimly aware that there is a Public Information Film doing the rounds masquerading as a Blockbuster at the cinemas. I refer, of course, to the Lego Movie and, in case it wasn't already painfully obvious, we went to see it and I am going to review it here.

There is a twist, however, and that is that we went to see it as a family. I had just got back from my night out in Leeds and the children were at that stage where they needed to do something but were unable to actually do anything. Mind you, the Boy was a tad ill and the Girlie was a tad under the weather generally. Nevertheless, we thought they would enjoy the experience and it was a chance to introduce them both to the world of the cinema (and probably a good time as neither would have the energy to get a hurricane level of tantrum going).

This is an entry about parenting and a film. Would you like to know more?

The first thing to note is that we were wrong. Anna and I were convinced that we were going to chaperone our children to something that they would enjoy and that we would find funny in parts. You know, like Cars or something where there are enough jokes written for the adults ("he did what in his cups?") that we find it amusing but that speaks mainly to our children. Instead we found a story that begins childishly enough but rapidly switches. We had references to Harry Potter, Star Wars and virtually any 80s film within the first minute or so, all of which went completely over the heads of the assembled children. Then we get going with the main plot and the main character and straight away we became aware that most of this was aimed at us, the adults. Sure, the main song was mainly aimed at the children, but the complexity of opening and the references to how instructions were used were mainly for us.

Then the film heated up. Pace increased, jokes increased, and the story began to get into its groove. It looked like we were in for a bit of a thrill-tastic ride that would appeal to the children now that the adults had been settled. Wrong again. Despite the feeling that we were romping through the barely-imagined world of a twelve year old on speed we never felt unduly rushed or hurried. I mean, sure, things happened without much preamble (hello, Bad Cop, I'm looking at you and your chairs) and scenes shifted at the pace of epilepsy but it seemed perfectly inkeeping with the concept. A few world changes and silly moments later, we get introduced to Batman ("I'm Batman!"), and then to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Here it all got a bit... weird.

There were plenty of points that were borrowed from Friendship is Magic here, the clever characterisations and nuance in each character but also the main idea for Uni-Kitty was very much a parallel to Pinky Pie - which was carefully handled too. I have no idea what our children were doing at this point. Despite having the Boy on my lap I confess to have been taken in completely by the story. The introduction to the Eighties Astronaut Guy was amusing and, as Anna pointed out later, the fact that there was so much based on him and the background that only adults who had played with Lego in the eighties could possibly understand pretty much made the film aimed for the parents and not the children.

Plot continued to happen and then, suddenly, there's the moral of the piece that was about teamwork and instructions and plans and we all felt duly satisfied that we'd seen this coming. Weren't we clever adults. Now all we had to do was see the story to the inevitable conclusion where the teamwork wins the day and... wait... what? Huh? It doesn't? Now we have a third-act cliff-hanger? Where did that come from? I'm trying very hard not to spoil this for anyone that hasn't seen it, but I actually felt like there was something in my eye. About this point the Boy started to ask if it was bedtime yet.

Then we're taken completely out of that world. Or, we are partly, as the main character still voices his concerns and, eventually, acts with agency. But the setting is so shifted that we begin to really question the whole shebang. The worlds get moulded together and suddenly the film isn't about what we thought it was about. Or, it is, but not in the way we expected. Suddenly there's something else afoot. When we get re-injected into the original world and setting we start viewing everything differently and the plot seems to have taken a completely different direction, also, the reason for the pace and the scene changes appears more clear.

But then it gets even more messed up. The film changes direction again and it starts to talk specifically to the adults that have grown up with their toys and now have children. In short, it was speaking directly at Anna and I. Sure, the message was one we already knew and the lesson one we had learnt by other means but that didn't make it any less powerful or unexpected. By the time we reach the end of the film it was no longer clear what we were watching. Or how many acts it had. Or what was actually going on. It left many more questions than it actually answered.

The denouement for all of this lies in the coda. Afterwards, our children were happy to leave the cinema (we watched the credits, what kind of father do you think I am?) without too much fuss and didn't mention it for the rest of the day. Wednesday too passed without any mention of the film. Anna and I regularly started singing the main song at one another for inappropriate things ("never mind the terrible thing you've just read on the internet, *deep breath*, EV-REE-THING IS A'SOME!") and being told by the Boy to "stop singing that!" Apart from that, we appeared free of any lasting effects of the film.

Then, this morning, just before I took a bath to cleanse my stinking human frame, Girlie asked to see something from the Lego Movie on youtube. The Boy followed suit. Soon they were both watching the song over and over. The Girlie then began asking about the film: names, plot points and jokes. The Boy shared some choice quotes that he found funny (so mangled that neither Anna nor I could work out which bits they were from, but he was laughing like a drain). Girlie, in particular, seemed excited by it in a way we didn't think she had been and was so keen on getting the film for home viewing (as the Boy put it: "On Gee Bee Gee Vee Dee!") that we were seriously considering taking her for a second time at some point this half term. After all, our local cinema is pretty dang cheap at just below four quid for a seat.

I'm not sure what that says about us, parenting or our children but I am certain that this post was more about that than it was about a Hollywood film. What more can I say?


  1. It did seem to come out of nowhere and slap you with pathos. Sadly, all the kids in the cinema switched off at that bit, while the parents became utterly engrossed.

    Still, as I have said elsewhere, if you're going to make a shameless promotional film for your range of toys, better make sure it totally rules. It didn't need to be as good as it was, or maybe it did. I'm not so sure anymore

    1. Agreed.

      Also, I totally misread your comment elsewhere because I am pap at tone on the internets.