Sometimes, honesty is the best policy, even in business. Most expensive movies are not made to tell a story or expound philosophically about life. They are just trying to sell a product. Franchises such as the Transformers could have saved us a great deal of time and brain cells if they were honest from the get-go that the human characters serve no purpose and that they just wanted to promote 1980s Japanese action figures. It would have made the action sequences far more enjoyable.

The Lego Movie carries the same baggage. There was a Danish construction toy maker, Lego Group, that wanted to sell more toys to children and partnered with Warner Bros. to make its corporate dream come true. Fortunately, the studio brought in two filmmakers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, that were media and pop culture savvy.

They understood that the Transformers franchise never really fooled anybody. It has been a while now since movies stopped depending on ticket sales as the only source of revenue - thanks to the original Star Wars trilogy - and audiences have been alright with the realisation for a time as long as there was at least a marginally complex plot.

Miller and Lord thus never pretended that the original intention behind the 2015 The Lego Movie was anything other than selling small, shiny toys to kids that could not care less about character and story development. And based on that theme, using a script that somehow was greenlit, made a movie about the excesses of capitalism, where everything is a product, advertising is nothing less than brainwashing, and the villain is called Lord Business, but imagination somehow thrives.

The venture was a win-win. Critics admired the movie, and Lego increased profits by 15pc that year after audiences threw lessons of the movie about excessive product placements and merchandising out of the window and bought their children more plastic toys.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part takes off right after the events of the original one. Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his friends, after confronting Lord Business, have to face off against aliens from another universe.

It should be pointed out that the entire film is more or less the imagination of a kid that is playing with Lego toys.

In the first film, the villain, Lord Business, was actually the kid’s figurative representation of his father. All the adventure and action was just an emotional confrontation leading to a resolution between father and son. The second follows the same trope but with the kid having to protect his toys from his obnoxious and clingy little sister.

The aliens that invade Emmet’s world are thus other Lego characters from the younger sister’s set. When Emmet’s friends are abducted by the aliens, he, who is a figurative representation of the kid’s imagination, has to make the journey to the other universe, which is just another room in the family house, to rescue his friends. Essentially, the plot is a study of children’s psychology.

But the sequel sells out in the end. The plot twist was unexpected and a delight to watch but upon further examination lends itself poorly to the theme of the movie. It sycophantically condones the shiny and glittery imagery and the catchy, feel-good songs in its effort to show that it is important to be optimistic.

Its argument seems to be that although capitalism has come to strangle to death values and principles that held the world together ever since the Second World War, all will be fine as long as we have friends that stand by our side. It is precisely the sort of message that execs of a powerful toymaker would want kids to believe.

Or perhaps, I am reading too much into a kids’ movie.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 16,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 981]


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