Before seeing it Saturday, March 1st, I'd managed not to learn too much about The Lego Movie beyond the basic plot elements and some of the characters in it (of course I knew Lego Batman was in it, but whoa, there was Lego [REDACTED], Lego [REDACTED] and Lego [REDACTED] too?!), but there's so much in this movie, even if I'd known a lot, I would've been happily surprised more than once. I wound up happily surprised several times.
Let me be the latest person to marvel at meta jokes about the movie's own "ordinary schlub saves the world" story, moments of genuine satire (a key line: "You don't know me, but I'm on television so you can trust me"), and thoughtful thoughts about religion (the movie refers to the God-like figure "The Man Upstairs," which pays off in a way I did not expect) coming from a movie designed to sell Lego toys. Well done. Toys can mean something. They also can -- and should -- be fun.
Also -- bear with me here, this may be a reach but I can use the stretch -- Emmett, the main character and eventual hero of The Lego Movie, made me think of Peter the first Pope. Or one interpretation of Peter the first Pope. Peter's the guy who has to make Christianity work in the world once Jesus Christ is no longer bodily in this world; famously, in the Bible Jesus calls Peter "this rock [on which] I will build my church." Here's the interpretation, via Kevin Smith of Clerks and Dogma: Peter's a far more ordinary guy than Jesus, no contest, and there were other disciples who perhaps would've been even more memorable Popes, but Peter in all his ordinary-ness may have been the most adaptable. (Smith said one of his Catholic School teachers said that Jesus, who had a sense of humor, was perhaps teasing Peter by calling him "The Rock.")
Emmett adapts. Lord Business adapts. The Man Upstairs adapts. Lego Batman doesn't adapt, but he figures out when he's not helping and removes himself from a certain situation. Adapting's what you can do with Lego blocks. AND WITH LIFE.
By the way: thank you, film, for letting Liam Neeson be that funny.