A little over a month into 2014, and the short list for the best movies of the year (so far) is really, really short. Of course, that was before today's release of The Lego Movie, a kids movie that's funnier and more inventive than any franchise based on a toy should be.
Directed and written by the team behind the surprisingly hilarious 21 Jump Street remake, The Lego Movie is about a dumb but sweet Lego guy named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) who gets pulled into a wild conspiracy about a mythical Lego builder dubbed the Special who will save the Lego worlds—yes, plural—from destruction at the hand of the corrupt President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell). From this set-up—shouts out to The Fifth Element—the movie zoinks off into the bric-a-brac of a child's imagination (and the properties held by Lego). Our hero travels from the bustling metropolis where he works as a construction worker, to the wild west, a medieval land, a cloud city where everyone is dosed on acid (kinda), and beyond. Batman makes an appearance, along with the Star Wars crew, Abraham Lincoln, and more. There's always more, here, and it's always amusing.
That's this adult's opinion, anyway. To round out my review, I borrowed a kid to get a child's perspective on The Lego Movie.
What follows is a conversation with 9-year-old Asa Bry, a Dr. Who fan and aspiring helper of animals.
What did you think of the movie?
I thought it was pretty good. Really funny. And I thought it was cool how, in the movie, everything was Legos—except the real people and the things that the Legos got from the people.
Do you have Legos?
Yeah. I’m actually working on a set with my mom right now.
Are you the kind of person who follows the instructions or do you go outside the instructions?
Well, what me and my mom do is, we first follow the instructions and build the thing. And then after a while, displaying it, we just put it in the big Lego bin. Then we just make new stuff from the bin.
The movie’s about, like, those two different approaches to Legos. Wanting to keep everything the same and follow the directions vs. wanting to be imaginative. But you can understand both perspectives.
One of the coolest things, I thought, about the movie was how many other movies and comic books showed up. There was Batman and Green Lantern, and also Star Wars—
I liked that too. I used to have this Batman set. It came with really cool pieces. It’s probably in my pile.
It’s mixed in now.
Yeah. I got that when I was, I don’t know, three or four. I had the Penguin’s boat. And then I had the guy who freezes everything. I forget his name.
Yeah. I had his little car and the Batmobile.
Is there anything you would’ve liked to have seen in the movie? Like any other kinds of Legos?
There's this cool series of Legos called Chima. It’s like these—I don’t quite understand it yet. It’s like these different tribes of mythical animals, like lions, gorillas, eagles, wolves, and they like fight each other. They're sort of racing to get a special kind of legendary orb called a Chi. It's pretty cool. I have a couple Lego sets of that. I think it would be cool if they had been in the movie, because I really like mythical and magical stuff.
Did The Lego Movie remind you of any other movies you’ve seen?
Not really, because I haven’t seen so many movies about Legos, or a lot of things of the same category in one.
I used to really like pretending that the Legos were real. Playing with them. I guess I don’t do that as much, but I still like Legos. I don’t really think that the movie changed the way I think of my Legos. —Asa Bry
What were some of your favorite parts?
Mostly I liked where the characters used their imagination to build all sorts of different things. I really like those parts. I think it would be so cool if we could just imagine something and build it that quickly in real life.
That would be very cool and useful.
Do you think that there’s gonna be sequel?
I don’t really know what that means.
It’s if they make The Lego Movie 2.
Oh! I think it would be cool if they made a sequel, like with a whole new bad guy. But then I don’t think it would really make too much sense, and it would sort of ruin the surprise and fun of this one.
The bad guy’s name in this one is President Business. Do you think the movie is anti-business?
Not anti-business. They workers in the movie, they're doing business. I think the movie is sort of against perfectness. President Business, his whole business was wanting everything perfect.
Will you play with your Legos differently now? Has it changed the way you look at them?
Not really. I used to really like pretending that the Legos were real. Playing with them. I guess I don’t do that as much, but I still like Legos. I don’t really think that it changed the way I think of my Legos.
Since you said you don’t imagine the stories as much, what do you still like about Legos now?
Well, I like building them. I like making new things and like really working on them. I kind of like the building more than the playing with them.
So before you were like writing stories, like a writer, and now it's more like you're an architect?
Have you ever thought that might be something you’d want to do when you grow up?
Like try and build things. Invent things.
Oh, architect? No, not really. In second grade someone came in every day of the week and he talked to us about how we were supposed to build our own imaginative things, but I never really thought that I would become an architect.
Do you ever think what you’ll grow up and do?
Yeah. Actually, I have thought about that. A lot. I used to want to be an artist, or a scientist. Now, for a while, I’ve stuck to one decision and I think what I want to be is an animal rescuer. I really like animals and nature.
Work in a city? That kind of an animal situation?
My imagination of what I would be if I’m an animal rescuer is there’s a big workplace in, not really the city, but more like in the savanna. We would go out equipped and find baby animals who lost their parents, or something, and then we would take care of them and raise them for a while until they were old enough to go back out into the wild.
Do you have any final thoughts about the movie?
Would you tell somebody to go see it?
Yeah, I liked it.
The last time we went and saw a movie together, we saw Turbo. I thought this was a lot better than Turbo.
I think they were maybe the same, but if I’m gonna really set like an opinion on one of them I’m probably gonna have to watch both of them around the same time so I can remember both clearly. I think, right now, they’re both around the same.
Interview by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)