PUBLISHED 17 MAR 2017
THE LEGO MOVIE proudly wears its parodic nature on its sleeve. From start to finish the film revels in its comedic nature, lampooning practically every aspect of popular culture along the way. At the core of this feature-length toy commercial’s story, however, is a surprisingly concerted effort at not just parodying, but outright condemning the “Chosen One” as a plotline.
The film opens with wise sage Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) delivering a prophecy that “the Special” will use the film’s central MacGuffin - the Piece of Resistance - to thwart main antagonist Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Soon enough, dim-witted everyman Emmet (Chris Pratt) finds the Piece and is heralded as “the Special”, setting off with a group of allies on a journey to defeat Business.
What ensues is a seemingly standard, if irrelevant, adventure plot in which Emmet gradually learns to become the hero he was prophesised to be – except not quite, as THE LEGO MOVIE has a number of twists in store. The first comes at the close of the second act. As the heroes are captured and Vitruvius lays dying, he reveals something to Emmet: that the prophecy of “the Special” was a lie to motivate whoever wound up accidentally finding the Piece; Emmet was never predestined to be a hero. Determined to save his friends Emmet sacrifices himself and, spurred on by his apparent death, his allies lead the entire LEGO world to rebel against Lord Business. At this turn, the entire hero’s journey plot is totally subverted. Emmet may not have been destined for greatness but he attained it through his own merits. Instead of a singular hero rising above to save everyone else, everybody in the film regardless of background and skillset contributes equally to defeat the main villain.
This already works as a thorough deconstruction of “Chosen One” cliché, and yet THE LEGO MOVIE has another surprise still to come. During the climax it is revealed that the events of the film were the imagination of a young boy (Jadon Sand), with Lord Business a proxy of his father (Will Ferrell) who intends to superglue his LEGO sets together. Seeing his son’s inventiveness playing with LEGO the father has a change of heart, letting his son use the sets as a creative outlet after all. This ending has multiple purposes: serving as a simple lesson about learning to share appropriate for a film for children, plus an obvious advertisement for the LEGO brand, but it also thematically ties in with the movie’s condemnation of the “Chosen One”. In the film’s closing moments, Emmet delivers a speech to Lord Business, representing the son and the father respectively, about how everybody has the capacity to be “the Special”, but only through cooperation. The father sees himself as the hero of his own story, self-obsessed with his own narrative of how things are meant to be. This is represented by gluing the LEGO world together in his perfect vision, stifling the creativity of his own son in the process; this is why THE LEGO MOVIE marks him as a villain.
THE LEGO MOVIE contains a somewhat surprising a humanist heart beating at the centre of the film, championing the dissolution of the self in favour of unity. Fantasy stories about “Chosen Ones” and epic quests may inspire us, but it is important not to see ourselves as the protagonist: the journey of life is a shared one.
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