Because there are so many agenda-driven entertainments out there, there is a knee-jerk reaction today to try to glean the political bent of a movie. Is it a conservative story or a liberal one? Does it speak to individual liberty or does it attempt to wrap collectivism in pretty shiny packaging? As a result, we see movie reviews by those on the left which decry movies being “too jingoistic,” while on the right we see reviews that mourn the indoctrination of our society with “collectivist” values.
The truth of the matter is that a great movie, with a solid storyline, can, and does, rise above those designations. Sometimes a story is so well-crafted that it can successfully be all things to all people. The Lego Movie is just such a film. To the conservative and libertarian, the movie will read as a paean to individual liberty, while to the liberal and progressive it will speak to the value of collective effort.
The movie is essentially a journey of self-discovery by Emmet, our minifig protagonist who lives in a world where, as the very catchy theme song goes, “Everything is Awesome.” There don’t seem to be any social ills and people are diverse, happy and very respectful of one another. Yet, as is always the case, there is a downside. In this seeming utopia, people’s individuality exists within a very narrow framework; namely the instruction book. This book, a Lego instruction manual, clearly and vividly, through the use of simple pictograms, lays out out the required steps necessary to live a good and productive life as a citizen. Deviation from the instruction booklet is illegal.
The society is presided over by President Business, a charismatic politician and owner of the only business in the Lego world. In our LegoTopia, it turns out that the corporation and the government are, in fact, one in the same. As the Lego site describes:
President Business is the president of the massive Octan Corporation… and the entire world. All he wants is for everybody to follow his instructions for how to build and act all the time.
Bread, circus, law and morality emanate from the same place.