2014 Story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller The Lego Movie constantly refrains the song “Everything is Awesome!” throughout the film, and though the song is presented as a joke because things aren’t awesome, it best describes The Lego Movie. Because everything is awesome. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took a toy commercial and traditional hero’s journey narrative and turned it into a celebration of tossing out instructions and a collectivist uniting against conformity and conservatism. Also it’s fun and hilarious.
The unlikely group of heroes unite against President Business, who controls the entire world and wants things to stay just the way they are. He gets incensed when things are built that don’t follow the rules or are weird. His reign has seen the Lego city become a virtual police state where everyone follows a huge list of rules and destroys anything out of the ordinary to be replaced with construction that follows the rules. The people are lulled into accepting their reality with glee, thanks to control of television and music, where every show is Where’s My Pants? and every song is the aforementioned “Everything is Awesome!”
The resistance becomes a celebration of individuality vs marching to the same drum beat. The Lego Movie encourages you to build what you want, and not worry about if your projects conflict with what someone expects you to do. While President Business seeks his stagnant perfection, the real progress and fun comes from the chaos of creation.
Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) – Emmet is the most average man who ever averaged, and even when he follows all the rules (and there are a lot of rules), no one seems to remember him much at all. But things change when suddenly the Piece of Resistance is stuck to his back, and it looks like he has a prophesy to fulfill. If he can just be interesting!
Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) – A Master Builder who searches for the Piece of Resistance and finds it on Emmet. She mistakenly thinks he’s much more powerful than he actually is. But despite her disappointment, she becomes part of the inspiration for Emmet to rise up beyond his lot in life. Is dating Batman.
Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) – Wise sage who prophesies the downfall of Lord Business and the Piece of Resistance. He’s blinded, and later begins training Emmet, though there is little time for actual training. Has trouble telling Gandalf and Dumbledore apart.
Batman (Will Arnett) – The best movie Batman since Adam West. The caped crusader joins the mission to save the universe because he’s Batman and that’s what Batman does. He’s dark. Also he’s dating Wyldstyle, in between making his music. FYI, people in the audience cheered when Batman showed up.
Lord/President Business (Will Ferrell) – Lord Business is President of the Lego city and controls all aspects of it, in a creepy Big Brother way. He’s also a super villain, who has stolen an artifact that he plans to use to end the world (which involves freezing it in place.) That is, unless he’s stopped by The Piece of Resistance!
2012 Written by Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
21 Jump Street is a hilarious and entertaining action comedy that manages to be a police story, commentary on modern high school culture vs. just a few years ago, buddy comedy, and meta humor behemoth. It far exceeded the meager expectations I had going into it (in yet another advanced free screening for the public – Tars has sold out once again! Dammit, Tars, stop selling out!) Updating the original series seems like it would be easy, as the plot (cops that look young are sent undercover into high schools) is simplistic enough that one fears the script being from the land of Generic. But no one working on 21 Jump Street hitched a ride on the lazy train, instead they shot for the moon, and now the moon’s head is hanging above their fireplace.
When I was younger, I watched episodes of the original series, but for some reason I can’t seem to remember anything at all about the show. Even being reminded by Wikipedia and a few fan sites has refreshed nothing, so I’ll have to watch a few episodes to get memories back. Or maybe my mind has been overwritten with more Martian secret agent memories again…
Meta humor is strong in this one, with characters commenting on their behavior, Ice Cube as the angry black captain telling people to embrace their stereotypes, and various goofs against remakes and police film cliches/tropes. The high school setting becomes a playground for skewering modern teenage culture with the texting and viral videos while the cops become fish out of water on multiple levels, Schmidt suddenly becoming popular while Jenko is stuck with hanging out with the chemistry kids.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) – Former school loser turned undercover cop who finds new-found popularity thanks to how things have changed in the past few years. Becomes too involved in his fake identity as things begin to spiral out of control. Besides starring, Jonah Hill helped write the story for this remake.
Jenko (Channing Tatum) – Former jock who doesn’t like to study, who is accidentally thrown into the honors classes when put undercover at school. Jenko was the name of the original 21 Jump Street CO for the first few episodes before he was killed by a drunk driver. If there was a connection mentioned, I missed it.
Molly Tracey (Brie Larson) – Eric’s girlfriend who becomes Jonah Hill’s love interest as he tries to infiltrate/befriend Eric’s group.
Eric Molson (Dave Franco) – Drug-pushing hippie with rich parents who ignore him. Starts becoming in over his head, but too arrogant to back down. Dave Franco is James Franco’s brother, and looks like an “If they mated” for James Franco and Zac Efron.
Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) – Dickson is angry, black, and a captain. And proud of it.