"The Lego Movie," directed by Phil Lord, has been criticized and praised as an anti-business film with a villain who looks like Mitt Romney, but Christian reviewers say it does not take a political stance and provides a strong outlet for conversation with children about the important things in life.
"The movie is so frenetic that it's hard to pin it down the first time," Alex Wainer, associate professor of Communication and Media Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, told The Christian Post in a statement on Friday. Nevertheless, he praised the film. "I recommend the film as a great conversation starter for families and friends interested in the way movies can raise questions about life and how we should live.
"The Lego Movie" hit the top of the box office last weekend with $69 million and a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While some attack it as a "capitalist dystopia" ruled by "President Business," libertarian critic Mollie Hemingway suggested it may be "the most subversive pro-liberty film ever."
Under President Business' "iron-fist rule, everyone follows the instructions at home and work, enforced by cheery 'I've got my eye on you!' advertisements and surveillance cameras," Hemingway explained. "The world's free thinkers – known as master builders – are President Business' greatest threat." Hemingway argued that these master builders represent entrepreneurs, innovating to make the world a better place, despite the red tape of big government.
"Even though the film is a 100-minute commercial for business, it's also an ad for personal responsibility, individual choice, meaningful work, natural constraints, the dignity of the individual, and the fight against a government that desires control of the lives of citizens," Hemingway wrote.
Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, agreed with Hemingway's analysis. "I think we all agree it's incredibly pro-freedom and funny, too." Gainor added that "it's witty enough that you can overlay whatever cultural critique you wish, but I think it's a stretch to try and link that to the Christian perspective, especially when so much out there does so directly."
"Mollie Hemingway does a very good job of offering a libertarian/virtue-centered (two elements that don't necessarily go together) explanation that makes more sense than the superficial liberal take," Wainer argued. Nevertheless, he cautioned against "the tendency for ideologues to claim this or that movie for their side, conscripting entertainments into their arsenal and often freighting them with meaning they don't have."
Wainer's first impression of the film "was that one may do anything with their Legos and it will be just as good as anyone else's, since 'Everything is Awesome!'" In this view, the film refutes "the famous line from The Incredibles, when Dash, replying to his mother's admonition to suppress his abilities, saying that 'everyone's special,' replies 'which is another way of saying no one is.'"
In addition to this insight, Wainer explained that the film could be taken in a Christian direction. "There might be a thematic thread concerning the care we take in building our lives – we are free in Christ but not to use this freedom to indulge our flesh," he wrote. "We should build our lives carefully using only the best 'bricks' of gold, silver, costly stones, rather than wood, hay or straw lest what we construct not stand the fire of God's inspection (1 Cor. 3:12-15)."
The reviewer did admit, however, that this theme is more "a sermon illustration from pop culture, rather than a response."
"I consider the film appropriate for all ages with not enough wood, hay or straw to object to," he concluded.