Twitter buzz over the weekend made me suspect I had chosen the wrong movie to see and review for its cultural significance. I went with “The Monuments Men,” but I’m starting to think I should have seen “The Lego Movie” instead. I’m a fan of animation, Eastern and Western, hand-drawn and computerized, but I just couldn’t see myself in the audience for the Lego film. Besides, I’m a lifelong sucker for World War II movies, a taste I partially inherited from my mom. (One of the last movies we saw together before she passed away was Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor,” which she wanted to see on opening night. Her review, which I relate to you in its entirety, word for word: “It wasn’t like that.”)
But I started seeing social media commentary that “The Lego Movie” was one of the great subversive films of the age, a joke played at the expense of knee-jerk leftists like Michael Moore, who rushed to embrace the movie as a socialist primer for the tots because the villain is named “President Business” and bears a passing resemblance to Mitt Romney. The joke is on the lefty fools who didn’t see the movie, because it’s evidently a devastating slam at socialism, particularly the Obama model of government-business cronyism.
I don’t want to steal a word of her thunder – she might have made it superfluous for me to review the film, although I’m now curious to watch it myself and see if I arrive at the same conclusion – but here’s Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist: “‘The LEGO Movie’ isn’t just pro-business. It’s also about the importance of hard work, creativity, ownership, innovation and human dignity. There might not be a more classically liberal film in the history of film-making, when it’s all said and done.” Read her full review at the link above to learn how she arrived at that conclusion, and to enjoy a bit of tut-tutting directed at conservatives who evidently joined the liberal dupes in judging the movie without seeing it.
Of course, a movie wouldn’t be “subversive” if its true message did not differ from the packaging; there’s nothing “subversive” about an anti-fracking film full of fraud and propaganda that advertises itself as an anti-fracking film that isn’t full of fraud and propaganda. The expressions warn by doctrinaire liberal parents who took their kids to see “The LEGO Movie” thinking it would deliver a wheezy Michael Moore Marxist screed against free enterprise and voluntary commerce must be priceless; they should have planted hidden cameras in the theater to capture audience reactions. Or maybe those doctrinaire liberal parents are too far gone to think about what they’re seeing, the way Mollie Hemingway did, their critical faculties short-circuited by the sight of a villain named “President Business” who looks like a Republican.
Frankly, I thought there was buried comedy gold in the very premise of a movie that would serve as a long-form advertisement for a billion-dollar toy empire while presenting a business magnate as the bad guy. It was said that capitalists would sell communists the rope needed to hang them; instead, capitalists have sold socialists the LEGO bricks they need to bury themselves. If this kids’ movie takes that observation literally, there have been many others that blundered into it accidentally. It’s always amusing to see “message movies” from activist liberals that send exactly the opposite message from the one they intended, particularly once audiences devote a few moments of brainpower to deconstructing the plot. (cf. the “Star Wars” prequels, for a prominent example.)
But it looks like the LEGO guys knew what they were doing, which is awesome.