A Confused Woman Reviews The Lego Movie
Published in ChicagoNow, February 25, 2014
“It’s confusing and I only kind of liked it,” was my 7-year-old granddaughter’s initial response to The Lego Movie. I have to agree. The song was cute and the plot, with its two levels of meaning, entertained me on an adult level. It was clever, but it did not grab my heart. In fact, as I thought about it, its message confused me even more.
Let’s cut to the chase. This one was for the boys, which I guess is only fair after watching my granddaughters get so caught up in the Frozen frenzy. But while Frozen made heroines of Elsa and Anna and had a great sound track, there were admirable guys in it as well. OK, well Kristoff was a great guy as were Olaf (who happened to be a snowman) and Sven (who was a reindeer). And the baddies were all guys, come to think of it. But at least there were as many males as females in the film.
The Lego Movie, on the other hand, featured one main female character, Wyldstyle, who was frankly annoying. The only other females were Wonder Woman in a small role as one of the many superhero Legos, and an off-screen baby sister at the end who promised to invade the father/son “man cave” with her pink and purple Duplos. Oh, and there was the pink and goofy Unikitty. So yes, I think this was a movie that appeals more to the guys.
I can live with that, but I also found the underlying message confusing in light of what Lego is currently marketing and selling. “Unleash your imagination now,” the movie’s trailer proclaims. The theme seems to be: Be creative. Don’t build only one thing. Don’t keep it in place with superglue. Mix it up. Make your own unique creations.
Unfortunately, that is not how Lego markets its products these days. I went to Target, admittedly after Christmas, hoping to find a huge tub of Legos for my grandkids to build and create things together. My motivation was watching my husband and grandson assemble a Lego kit that made a space ship only. They had to be so careful not to lose a single piece or the end product would be ruined. Once finished, it was finished. It really couldn’t be anything else. Unfortunately, Target only had an aisle of kits in the boys’ toy section.
I continued my quest at target.com, searching for just Lego pieces, and I found:
LEGO Bricks and More Pink Suitcase - "Take the world of creative building everywhere with the LEGO® Pink Suitcase! Get building with a cute house theme and tons of bright accessories!”
LEGO Bricks and More Blue Suitcase - “Take the world of creative building everywhere with the LEGO® Blue Suitcase! Get building with a fun and iconic gas station theme!”
I guess I could mix them together to make a collection all of my grandkids, male and female, would like. Then I feared they would re-sort them into the boy and girl colors, which was a depressing thought. What ever happened to just plain Legos in basic primary colors?
But I didn’t give up. Surely I could find a bucket of Lego pieces online at lego.com. Unfortunately, here’s what the Lego store recommended “just for me” (each one $30):
A kit fit for a girl? A Batmobile with flick missiles and The Flash to stop The Riddler’s Dragster with LEGO® Super Heroes Batman™.
A LEGO® Star Wars™ Yoda Minifigure Clock, featuring a digital, lighted display and alarm clock.
Cinderella’s Dream Carriage, from LEGO® Disney Princess™ with a horse, carriage, fountain and a magic wand.
So now we were back to just the gender-specific kits.
I know, I’ve strayed far afield from reviewing The Lego Movie, but after its cleverness had worn off, I was left feeling a bit sad. These happy little pieces now have to be divided by gender and forced to be building kits for one thing only.
The Lego Movie theme song "Everything is Awesome" tells us (and I think this was supposed to be ironic in the movie):
“We’re the same, I’m like you, you’re like me, we are working in harmony…Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you’re living out a dream.”
I’m not sure how I feel about what this catchy tune tells our kids. Teamwork is great, but are we all the same? If we are, why divide Lego sets by gender? If it’s awesome to live out a dream, why make sets with which a kid can only create one thing?
Lego-lovers and fans of The Lego Movie please enlighten me.