Film Review: The Lego Movie

Posted on:

Brand Loyalty

The Lego Movie begs the question, can you ever have enough? You’re already one of the most popular toy manufacturers in the world, you have theme parks and licensed in roads into every popular franchise ever conceived, your product’s ubiquitous, found in the homes of every child and manchild through the globe, yet you’re worried that it’s almost too commonplace. Lego’s so popular, so much a part of the pop cultural furniture, there’s a danger families will stop buying it. How to remind them it’s still out there and one of the most malleable and multifunctional playthings around?

Well the answer may look something like Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s one hundred minute commercial, invested with real storytelling craft and wit in a bid to disguise its ontological bent: a movie that exists to sell Lego bricks. The story’s been conceived at Lego HQ – a 1:1 skyscraper made from product, long before any filmmakers were hired. The aim was to acknowledge Lego’s status as a parental favourite while underlining the fact that it’s still for today’s kids; a toy that could and should be passed from parent to child. It would have to be a story that hammered that point home while reinforcing, sorry celebrating, that Lego’s a product that’s alchemised by the childhood imagination.

Yes, don’t let all those scaled recreations of major cities fool you, Lego works best when it’s used to build whatever your heart desires; nonsense objects that channel your creativity and individuated freedom of expression. If a movie could show all of that while being made entirely from Lego, featuring Lego characters from various licensed tie-ins, yet feel good and have a self-reflexive element that would leave parents feeling satisfied and only too happy to give in to their kid’s post-movie plea for more Lego, then it could be very lucrative indeed: the greatest commercial ever made.

No one’s going to argue that Lord and Miller haven’t stuck to the brief. The Lego Movie is feel good hypocrisy with a big cheesy smile on its face. You’d have to have a Lego brick for a heart not to enjoy it. The Lego world it creates is sublime, it manages to tick off Lego nostalgia and modern tie-ins with aplomb and the in-story link between the playful application of Lego and the real world is handled with great skill and intelligence. The problem, as you may have gathered, is that it’s a fraud: a film that teaches tots to mine their creativity, to think for themselves, to reject the corporatisation of their lives, while they sit in the audience, docile, absorbing a feature length slab of product placement.

It’s little wonder that Will Ferrell’s controlling Dad is the villain of the piece. A man who’s forgotten the essence of the brand? Who’s impressed his own values on the Lego Group’s signature product? What a bastard. It’s hard to know who to hate more, him or Lego for having the gall to woo kids with a movie that tells them to follow their imaginations while inseminating them with brand loyalty.

Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Country: US

Year: 2014

Running Time: 100 mins

Certificate: U - suitable for all Lego users.

126 Responses

  1. Sean says:

    What a terrible review. Lego Movie was awesome. Did you even watch the movie??

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      *I did, yes.

    • Michael says:

      That’s ok, he didn’t like This is the End, or Monsters University, The Wolverine, Lincoln, Les Mis, Life of Pi, Skyfall, or Django Unchained.

      Clearly Mr. Whitfield has carved out a niche as being anti-establishment.

      I guess Ed didn’t watch the 2012 Oscars. Or maybe he gave it a bad review.

  2. Nick says:

    What a sad, sad life you must lead Ed.

  3. Jeff says:

    For some reason the review comes across as being extremely bitter, like you have a biased disposition towards Legos, or anything mainstream perhaps.

    It really seems that at times you caught yourself really enjoying the movie, but then forcefully reminded yourself that it’s merely product placement; an opinion perhaps formed when the movie was even announced? The first paragraph sounds like something you’d say the moment you hear of the movie’s existence, prior to even seeing it.

    Of course you are entitled to your own opinion. I’m no longer in possession of Legos, but after seeing this movie it makes me sad that I’m not. So yes, this is something of a commercial, but truly no more than watching a Disney movie and wanting more Disney items afterwards. The movie made me smile from ear to ear, laugh out loud, and genuinely made me happy, together with the person I was seeing it with.

    Perhaps you should watch it again without the pre-conceived notion of it being nothing but blatant product placement, but instead, from the perspective of your inner child who still remembers that 80’s spaceman Lego character.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      You’re correct. When I was 7 I nearly choked on a Lego brick. My family subsequently sued the Lego corporation for the Austin Powersian sum of $1bn but lost the case and have been paying legal costs to them every since. It’s impoverished our family. Now whenever I encounter anything Lego related I’m blinded by rage.

      I must call you out on a comment cliche, because I’m part of the global guild of critics trying to stamp them out. I had no preconceived notions about the film going in. In fact, and I realise this will be nigh on impossible to accept, not least because of my history with the Lego corporation, I had given the production not a single thought in the weeks and months leading up to the release. I’m not obsessed with Lego. Not anymore. I’m over that choking now.

      This movie isn’t quite the same as a film stocked with Disney characters/products, or indeed normal product placement – all of which I find pretty obnoxious when the target audience is children. In this case the movie is the product. The equivalent would be a Disney film made entirely out of Disney store stock. It doesn’t matter if you believe me or not, the fact is I watched this movie ever aware that it had been developed and shaped by a corporate brief. That alone wouldn’t have been fatal but that PLUS the film’s anti-corporate, anti-conformist message, was just too much.

      Anyway, I hope it’s the start of a new sub-genre. I can’t wait for the McDonalds Movie featuring an anthropomorphised Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Large Coke, trying to stay alive in a restaurant after hours when the place is besieged by a gang of do-gooding, militant, quasi-fascist Mothers determined to destroy the place in the name of healthy eating and corporate responsibility.

      Hollywood, if you’re reading this, that idea is copyrighted and will cost you ten million.

      • Me says:

        Wow. Just-

        First of all, the movie wasn’t even endorsed by LEGO, they basically just “Okay”d the creation of it.

        Second, the movie didn’t advertise LEGO at all, it advertised it less than Spaceballs advertised Star Wars.

        Third, you tried to sue a company for millions because YOU didn’t read a warning label and YOU were a moron as a 7 year old? I can see why your review was unintelligent.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          You’re right, these sentient Lego pieces never referred to themselves as Lego, so where was the commercial endorsement? Sure, the ubiquity of Lego in-story and the film’s directions on how one should play with it MIGHT be construed as one long promotion, but if you didn’t see that, and why should you when it was cleverly hidden in plain sight, there’s no reason to suppose it was a giant advertisement.

          I haven’t told you the worst part of the Lego story. The piece was forced down my throat by a Lego executive. He came to Whitfield House with a test kit for a new Lego line. He asked my mother if I’d like to play with it. She was okay with it but when he tried to hand it to me I said, “no thank you, I’m not into Lego”. Then he turned nasty. He broke the box, pulled out a piece and inserted it into my throat screaming, “you will play with it boy, you will enjoy it and you’ll get your fucking parents to play with it too, understand? We can build anything with these bricks, including guns. Don’t make me build a gun and come back here while you and your parents are sleeping. Now ENJOY THIS PIECE.” And he left as I choked on it.

          Now, to paraphrase the great comedian Stewart Lee, that story about Lego isn’t true, but what it tells us about them is.

          • Ed Whitefield Please Quit says:

            I really wish that you would have just choked on that lego brick a bit more when you were a child so no one would ever have to read another one of your lousy biased reviews and great job replying to nearly every comment that talked about how your review was garbage.

          • Ed Whitfield says:

            I don’t know who “Ed Whitefield” is but if I ever meet him I’ll pass on your message.

        • John Smith says:

          “Third, you tried to sue a company for millions because YOU didn’t read a warning label and YOU were a moron as a 7 year old? I can see why your review was unintelligent.”

          That was obviously sarcasm, are you really that stupid?

      • canola cocaine says:

        [I]That alone wouldn’t have been fatal but that PLUS the film’s anti-corporate, anti-conformist message, was just too much.[/I]

        It seems to me that you’re doing a fine job equating “anti-corporate” with “anti-conformist” in this review and subsequent comments section, and it is doing a great job pulling in page views. It is even better that no one recognizes this fallacy.

        A tear for pop art, ladies and gents.

        • Bruce says:

          Ed: I may agree with your review but it was articulate, thought provoking and quite entertaining. That, in my mind, makes you a valuable critic. Allowing replies via posts and making pithy retorts to same is just upside. Keep up the good work. BB

      • Salmo says:

        “The equivalent would be a Disney film made entirely out of Disney store stock.”

        Toy Story, then?

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          Well not quite. Toy Story‘s a odd case. You have a movie that features old toys, primarily for nostalgia purposes; it’s a film that’s demographically aware – confected like most Pixar Pics. But in Toy Story‘s case the characters that weren’t toys became toys, but that’s not quite the same as a movie designed to sell toys. By the time you get the third one, mind you, the product placement’s becoming a lot more obvious, a lot more crude. Nothing so brazen as the Lego movie of course.

  4. Nathan says:

    How else would you make a Lego movie? Seriously, I’ve been very disappointed by most everything Lego has done entertainment wise but this was different. I cannot think of anything they could have done to make this a better film about Lego’s. I ask you again, what could they have done other than taking Lego’s out of the movie completely to not make this the “feature length slab of product placement”?

    Every company in the world is trying to make money. Lego could have easily put a cheap movie together with far more theme based product placement and far less story, like they normally do. But instead they produced something much much more.

    If the very fact that the movie is based on Lego’s is enough to ruin the experience for you then you must have one little red brick of a heart.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      You’re right, it’s impossible to make a film about Lego without it being full of Lego but the one thing you have absolute control of is the screenplay, the concept, the message. If Lego and Warners don’t want to read reviews like this one then it’s incumbent on them not to be hypocrites. Make a 100 minute commercial by all means but don’t try to disguise it with a message about rejecting corporate indoctrination and thinking for yourself. That’s just rude.

      • John says:

        But when that corporate brief is to enjoy your own creativity and to have fun, is it so evil? Is it suddenly hypocritical to pass on a sincere message while simultaneously poking fun at oneself?

        I highly doubt Warners or Lego will be disturbed by the few bad reviews like this one, there are, after all, only a hand full of them. Hell, you’d be hard pressed to find any studio that cares about reviews over box office dollars. Why do you think a fourth Transformers is on the way?

        I feel sorry that you were not able to enjoy this film as so many others have. I work at a toy store that sells Lego and saw many parents in with children this weekend looking for sets of their favorite scenes. This isn’t unexpected, it happens to any toy any time a movie comes out in which the toy is featured. The difference here was that the parents were just as excited about the toy. I could tell that they genuinely could not wait to get home to share in their own little adventure. Call me a corporate conformist all you like but seeing that sort of warms the heart.

        PS. The focus of any legal suit should be the lawyers that tricked you into thinking you could sue Lego for choking. All boxes and instructions are clearly marked with choking hazards. Any legal counselor with half a brain could spot that lost cause.

  5. Just a guy who found your review on Rotten Tomatoes. says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m going to see this tonight.
    I understand what you are saying about corporate hypocrisy. (this kind of criticism has been brought on other popular family animated films in the past, like WALL-E.)

    I think this article is ultimately unfair. I wouldn’t have bothered to write a comment and say anything if you just thought it was a bad movie. But, you think this is a well-crafted movie, yet you still gave it a negative score.

    You know what, sure this film is, from a corporate perspective, hypocritical. On that point, I would have to agree with you. The movie preaches the importance of individuality while simultaneously promoting mass produced products. I get that.

    However, I think there’s a problem at work here that goes beyond the scope of just this one film. The American animation industry is engulfed in corporate blandness and consumerism. No one can make a feature-length animated film in the United States unless it’s purpose is to peddle products. This is not the problem of animation film-makers, who I believe for the most part genuinely want to create good movies.

    Criticizing a great movie like WALL-E, where hundreds of people worked very hard to make the best movie they possibly could, because of the way corporations behave, is hacking at the branches of evil, not the root.

    A lot of the people working on these movies, didn’t get into making movies because they want to sell products, but because they love film-making and animation. The reason that their great movies become toy commercials is because of the shareholders. It’s a big, complex problem we’ve got on here.

  6. Mike Kowzun says:

    Gotta say this one hit the nail on the head for me. The film is cute, amusing enough, and at times pretty funny, but the bald-faced hypocrisy in its most prevalent themes really sours the brew.

    • Jim says:

      It’s funny, I just saw the movie with my family and made the same exact comment to my wife afterwards – it’s longest ad for a product I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun movie that the whole family can enjoy. Just make sure you buy stock in Disney because they’ll be making millions, not just on the movie, but on Legos sales!

      • Joe Phillips says:

        I don’t get it. Lego isn’t owned by Disney. How would Disney make millions?

        Really you and the reviewer and dunes and obviously not Fathers who actually play with their sons.

      • Nathan says:

        There are two parts to Lego. One is the collection of sets (toys) that they produce. The other is the ability that you have to take these sets and mix and match them any which way you want to create anything you can think of. The latter is THE most important thing about Lego’s, and is often times overlooked in the quest for making the new best theme. The fact that they made the movie about the concept of creativity and not just advertising their current line of products is what showed me that they weren’t just making an ad or being hypocritical.

      • John says:

        Disney wont be making any of the money. Warners made the movie and Lego is privately owned. Only one of their properties has maybe 15 seconds of screen time.
        Frozen on the other hand, that’s Disney’s next big earner. Expect a flurry of subpar sequels and an overdone stage musical to round out it’s profits.

  7. LegoMyEggo says:

    At least for the entirety of the movie, the word “lego” was never ever spoken. I think for a commercial, they did a great job never mentioning their brand once, or even showing the word much. (Yes, I realize “Lego” is on every peg, but you don’t really see it.)

    I just don’t see this as hypocrisy. Lego is already an established brand/product, and I don’t see any way for a movie to be about a product without being a commercial, but that doesn’t make it bad. You could easily remove the part about it being “Lego” and make it about generic brick toys and the movie would have still made complete sense. That to me, means it’s far enough from “Lego” to keep it from being a bad thing.

    No one could really argue it’s not a commercial, but I don’t see any issue with this incredibly enjoyable movie.

  8. BlueCollarCritic says:

    Ed – Have you wondered why so many people have taken the time to find their way to your site and post negative comments about your review? I took the time to check out your other reviews and with a few exceptions (and even those had but 1 or 2 comments at most) not one of your reviews have any posts on them

    The answer is very simple. There are only a few ‘Critic Reviews’ on RottenTomatoes (from certified critics) that have given negative reviews of the LEGO MOVIE film and of those even fewer have been hateful enough to write reviews that area personally biased like yours. You did not write a review that was professionally critical of the film which would have been fine. Instead you had to inject a personal bias and a tone of hateful resentment towards the brand and in the process insult many who did find the film enjoyable.

    Now go ahead with one of your witty replies; they only further reinforce why so many here think negatively of your review and why most of your reviews will continue to receive few if any comments.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Well one of us has to be witty, right?

      Okay, so let’s talk about comments on reviews. Very few people can be bothered to take the time, as you have, to defecate a few paragraphs in an attempt to tell me I don’t know my rectum from a black hole. You’re not the first, you won’t be the last and you’re wasting your time – but let’s not dwell on that. People usually comment when they’re moved to do so – in other words, they vehemently disagree with my conclusions, as you do, or they’re delighted that someone, anyone, has written something that mirrors their own feelings. If you visit reviews like Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Star Trek Into Darkness, Walter Mitty, Catching Fire, Ender’s Game and so on – you’ll see this pattern replicated. That’s right, a lot of commenters are predictable, peddling well-worn guff like, “you’re personally bias” – another way of saying I’ve imposed some pre-existing agenda onto my view of the movie, or “you were always going to hate it!” I call these comment clichés, because that’s what they are – not, as you suppose, facts – and you can read more about those at:

      The most popular movies tend to generate the most comments but, as you may have noticed, I don’t just write about blockbusters (and would-be blockbusters), I’m also here to talk about the little seen and the ignored.

      Anyway, just to correct you, there’s nothing more professional that writing about what’s under a film’s hood – the cultural and production context that informs it. Believe it or not, and I hope you’re sitting down, that’s good practice. I don’t review movies to tell people like you what they want to hear and I certainly don’t review movies to capitalise on hype or reflect the view of the movie as marketed. If you want that, go elsewhere. Here you get not what the filmmakers told you they did but what they did.

      Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to piss on some Lego bricks.

  9. Chad says:

    Your review made me sad. I feel like you have lost part of your childhood in the process of becoming an un-biased critic. I mean seriously…who has not heard of LEGO that is old enough to buy a movie ticket? That’s one of the parts I was looking forward to…seeing my favorite toy from childhood re-created with great voice talents and animation. When I played with them as a kid my mind made up stories like this (well not EXACTLY of course) and I would sometimes try to re-create that stroy by drawing it, or filming it (but that looked like crud, so I stuck to my inner-movie player). My point is this…I went into The LEGO MOVIE, knowing it was about LEGOs…and hoped the story was going to be good. I was very surprised, it was great. It gave me the same feeling I had watching Toy Story, or Jurassic Park, or Lion King. Like I was seeing someing in a movie that I had never seen before. I laughed out loud at the puns and sarcasm. And my 2 kids (who have had legos since they could hold them) enjoyed the slapstick.
    sigh…my point is, I feel like you actually enjoyed the movie, but felt the need to preach about product placement. Ebert use to critique a movie, give it a rating, and then, if the urge struck him, he would write a 2nd article about the movie that was not a critique. I ask you then, product placement aside, what did you think of the movie? Your own words “No one’s going to argue that Lord and Miller haven’t stuck to the brief. The Lego Movie is feel good hypocrisy with a big cheesy smile on its face. You’d have to have a Lego brick for a heart not to enjoy it. The Lego world it creates is sublime, it manages to tick off Lego nostalgia and modern tie-ins with aplomb and the in-story link between the playful application of Lego and the real world is handled with great skill and intelligence. –
    seems like you liked it….

    • andy says:

      Mother of God this website is awful. How does RT choose people with a god damn AOL Homepage as a professional website? Jesus.

      Furthermore, your point is awful. Your vernacular is a bore. Even your name screams ‘AVERAGE!’ You, are, irrelevant and always will be. Goodbye, Yahoo! Geocities websiteguy.

  10. praguepride says:

    this review is right and yet oh so wrong at the same time. You hold it against a movie for being commercial and profitable but what do you expect? Hollywood is an industry and every major movie is chock full of corporatism and product placement.

    For their part considering that it’s LEGO: THE MOVIE they were very reserved. Yes they have to make these movies to sell toys and make $$$ but at least give a nod to the writers for doing so in a creative and clever way. Instead of just shoving products down your throat like any other blockbuster they at least took the product placement with a twist, having the master builders ID parts by their serial # was product placement but also a very neat mechanism for explaining the universe’s ‘magic’.

    Every movie has an agenda but at least this one seems to be fun and endearing as opposed to 99% of the rest of the world…

    credit where credit’s due 😀

  11. Gordon says:


    A+ writing here.

  12. Billy says:

    Mr. Whitfield – I’ve heard rumors of a new film in development called “The SMUG Movie.” I’m certain you’ll be on their short list to play the lead. But that’s only if you haven’t already accepted the lead roll in “The TROLL Movie.” Best of luck in your career, whichever role you accept. The coolest part is you’ll be able to trash your own movie!

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      I see what you’ve done there, Billy but the use of the word troll confuses my opinion with an opinion I’ve affected to have in order to gain a reaction from you, and reading your comment back I think we can both agree it’s unlikely anyone would go fishing for those jokes.

  13. Stacy M says:

    What a horrid, clearly biased review. When you find the time to remove that giant stick from your ass, go give the movie another chance, you jaded little man.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Stacy, it must have been a wonderful moment for you, identifying with Emmet – the character who’s never had an original thought in his life.

      FYI I’m 5’11.

  14. Rudy says:

    Please close your eyes and forget/forgive bricks ever did to you and move on. Then you’ll find something good in this movie.
    Will Ferrel forbid his son to touch and play his hobby. “That’s your area and don’t touch mine.” But his son want to play it and scared when his father find it. Then his father realize his son is very clever with his huge imagination and ask his son to play with him. Hug him and say: “I’m sorry and I love you.”
    Lovely, isn’t it?
    Lego it’s just a tool for play, you can play with your kid and increase his imagination in many ways (If you have kid).
    Just don’t too cynical with toy’s companies, and you right about one thing: “The greatest commercial ever made.” 😀
    Forgive my grammar because I just learn it.

  15. Isaac says:

    I think you will like my comment, but anyway, I had to get it out. You’re an idiot.

  16. Count Duckula says:

    Ed, reading your reviews is truly a bittersweet experience for me. This is because I find them some of the more thoughtful movie reviews that don’t slavishly bend to popular opinion.

    But the comments… Oh, the comments, Ed. The mindless vitriol that spews forth from your detractors just makes me imagine endless fields of armchairs filled with plump, slack-jawed spectators, bathing in the warm sickly-green glow of the media-of-the-moment.

    They don’t mind being manipulated, as long as it feels good. And challenging them to think or question their assumptions is one of the few crimes that will (almost) motivate them to take action.

    It makes me understand how the mainstream entertainment industry has grown so fat off violent power fantasies, membrane-thin beauty/personalities, colorful distractions, and the schadenfreude of “reality” tv. It also makes me sad.

    I don’t know how you endure the human truths that these people repeatedly illuminate. Hang in there.

  17. JTMacc99 says:

    I think what I find most interesting about this (very) rare negative review of this movie is that it is not a review of the movie as a movie. Instead, it is seems like it is a review of the fact it is also a 100 minute commercial for a product.

    I genuinely believe I am better off not thinking about the business side of the entertainment world when the lights go down in the theater.

    Exactly how many movies are made WITHOUT the goal of making lots of money?

    Probably less than 1%, and pretty much all of that group was made with the goal of getting critical acclaim and becoming loved and famous. (Which the people can then turn around into making more movies which will make them lots of money.)

    So as a movie on its own, I thought the Lego Movie was very entertaining. I also thought Gravity, The Dark Knight, The Hangover and a bunch of other Warner Bros. movies were very entertaining. So why should we penalize the Lego Movie for being more obvious about its goal to make money?

    And to help support my opinion that ALL movies have the goal of making money, and that we shouldn’t penalize the movie itself when it is more obvious about that goal, here is a little snippet about the movie business from the Time Warner annual financial statement:

    The Company’s Film and TV Entertainment businesses produce and distribute feature films, television, videogames and other programming; distribute
    home video product; and license rights to the Company’s feature films, television programming and characters. All of these businesses are principally
    conducted by various subsidiaries and affiliates of Warner Bros., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company.
    The Film and TV Entertainment segment’s theatrical product revenues are generated principally from the theatrical exhibition of feature films. In addition
    to the traditional 2D format, some of Warner Bros.’ theatrical releases are available in 3D and/or formatted for viewing on IMAX screens or high frame rate
    (“HFR”), tickets for which are generally sold at premium prices. The segment also generates theatrical product revenues from licensing fees received from the
    distribution of feature films on television networks and pay television programming services. The theatrical success of a feature film is a significant factor in
    determining the revenues it is likely to generate from the subsequent licensing of such film to television networks and programming services. The segment’s
    television product revenues are generated principally from the licensing of programs to domestic and international television networks, television station groups
    and pay television programming services.
    The segment also generates revenues for both its theatrical and television product through home video distribution on DVD, Blu-ray Discs and various
    digital formats (e.g., EST and VOD). In recent years, home video revenues have declined as a result of several factors, including consumers shifting
    to subscription rental services and discount rental kiosks; the general economic downturn in the U.S. and in many regions around the world; increasing
    competition for consumer discretionary time and spending; piracy; and the maturation of the standard definition DVD format. In response to these declines,
    Warner Bros. is working to make digital ownership more compelling for consumers through support of initiatives such as UltraViolet, the home entertainment
    industry standard that allows consumers who have purchased film and television content to create a permanent record of their purchases, stored in the cloud.
    Consumers can then download or stream that content to devices supported by participating UltraViolet retailers. The segment also generates revenues for both
    its theatrical and television product through licenses of motion pictures and television programming to subscription and transactional on-demand services,
    including iTunes, Comcast’s Stream Pix service, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and others. In addition, the segment generates revenues from the development and
    distribution of videogames in traditional console and digital formats.
    The segment also generates licensee fees and royalties from the license to manufacturers, publishers, retailers, theme park operators and other licensees of
    the names, likenesses, images, logos and other representations of characters and copyrighted material from motion pictures and television series produced or
    distributed by Warner Bros. Licensing revenues are typically derived from royalties based on the licensee’s revenues.

    In other words: Gravity = The Lego Movie.

    The reason millions of dollars were spent to make this movie was to make many more millions of dollars. We hope you forget about that part of the equation and just enjoy the movie for what it is.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      No one’s arguing that the film industry isn’t a business for God’s sake, but you’re conveniently dovetailing my argument into a discussion about the profit motive, when what we’re actually talking about is content. Of course all movies must make money but traditionally the product being sold is the film itself, not a sponsoring product. Universal didn’t make Back to the Future to sell DeLoreans. You’d expect a movie to be made with a tad more integrity than that. Through trial and error filmmakers have come to understand that some types of story have broader appeal than others, but the finished product, I believe, should stand on its own terms – it should aim to make money based on the strength of its story and characters, not by doubling as a commercial for a pre-existing toy. That’s the line that when crossed turns an ostensibly good natured flick into an obnoxious advertisement aimed at impressible kids and their parents.

      There’s no looking at any movie “on its own”, there’s no “what it is”. What it is includes everything that underpins it; the two things are indivisible. Not recognising that doesn’t make it untrue.

      • John says:

        “There’s no looking at any movie “on its own”, there’s no “what it is”.”

        If this is what you believe then I think you lack one of the most important qualities necessary to be a film critic. To be a well rounded, objective, and successful critic, one must be able to form opinions and analysis based on what they see before them on screen, no more, no less, the underlying assumption being that if someone with no prior knowledge of the film or its subject matter picked up your review, they would be able to decide if it was worth their time and their money.

        That being said, I recognize that the Lego Movie seems to bring with it a demand of product knowledge. However, I saw this to not be the case. Several people I saw it with, as well as others I know who saw it, with little to no product knowledge, all enjoyed it tremendously based on the bottom line fact that it is a damn good movie.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          Well your argument’s superficially plausible except that it ignores the inconvenience of the film, any film, being a cultural artifact. We add that metatextual layer every time we discuss in-jokes, parodies, references to other movies and all the junk directors stuff into the frame. In fact, if you want to get technical about it, there’s also that little matter of psychological manipulation, a factor that can’t be discussed just by describing what you see on the screen – no more, no less, because it’s efficacy is contingent on something that isn’t on screen: you. It’s impossible to be objective – if that’s what you want, you’re not after a critic, you want someone who’ll write you a plot synopsis. That’s the only way to fulfill your impossible brief. By looking at everything that informs a movie, the culture of its production and reception, as well as the content, I’m doing exactly what you think you want – giving you a well rounded view of the material. That’s what separates critics from people who write consumer previews.

          Again, just because you may not recognise this stuff matters, or think about it when you watch the flick, that doesn’t make it irrelevant.

      • JTMacc99 says:

        “but you’re conveniently dovetailing my argument into a discussion about the profit motive, when what we’re actually talking about is content. Of course all movies must make money but traditionally the product being sold is the film itself, not a sponsoring product.”

        And I completely understand the point you are making about this movie also being a commercial. I am in no way arguing the point that my son now wants Lego Movie stuff for his birthday, and that this is a direct result of watching that 100 minute commercial on Sunday.

        I’m just saying that if Lego wasn’t a real brand, it still would have been a really good movie. And I am genuinely curious what you would have thought about it in that scenario.

        And I am also simply stating that I find it a very interesting point of view, mostly because there are so very few negative reviews of this movie.

        So I’m throwing out the possibility that you are unfortunately separating the profit motive from the content for ONLY this movie, whereas the vast majority of people who reviewed the movie chose not to do so.

        So if we are going to judge the content of a movie with an eye on exactly how obvious it is that the point of making the movie was to make money, then where exactly do we draw the line?

        Is the line at the first product placement? Is the content of the movie completely overshadowed the second George Clooney sticks his hand into a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Is it after the third product placement, so not until he washes it down with a Poland Spring Water and jumps into his Toyota Prius that we stop seeing a movie and start seeing a commercial? Or is it not until the entire freaking movie is about a product like the Lego Movie before we can’t take it anymore?

        To be fair, the people who put up the money to make this movie, and the people who actually made the movie, probably care very little about whether or not Lego sells a bunch of toys as a result. As I noted, Warner Bros. will make its money because the content of the movie was very entertaining and will generate a big box office and outstanding results going forward. Warner Bros. is already working on a sequel not because this movie will sell toys. Warner Bros. is working on a sequel because this movie will sell movie tickets, licensing to TV, DVD, and other digital formats. It’s not like Lego wouldn’t let them make a second Lego movie because the toy sales were disappointing from the first movie.

        I guess it is a different point for all of us. I sit at the far end of the scale on this topic. Ever since we (the fans) used Subway to help save Chuck on NBC, I’ve embraced the power of sponsorships to keep my favorite television shows up and running. I also completely respect the opinion of people that art should be art, and that commercials should be commercials. I really do.

        I just find it interesting that so few people felt this movie was ruined because it was a commercial.

        Really interesting.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          “So I’m throwing out the possibility that you are unfortunately separating the profit motive from the content for ONLY this movie, whereas the vast majority of people who reviewed the movie chose not to do so.”

          Not so. It is, as you allude to, a matter of degree. Of course product placement has been a huge part of movies for decades now, we all accept that – in fact you can inadvertently “advertise” a product just by filming on a busy city street, the issue is how intrusive is it? Does it shape the material or just feature as a prop? I had this same argument with readers over Walter Mitty. Then as now someone argued, “but don’t all movies contain products?” and I was forced to point out, yes, but Mitty had been constructed to link pre-paid promotions together. The story served the product placement, not the other way round. The Lego Movie goes a stage further; the whole thing is product. No one looks back on Jaws and says, “holy shit, that movie was good but I could have done without the scene in which the Brody family ate Cheerios around the breakfast table.” No one watches E.T and comes away shaking their head, saying “without the Reese’s Pieces that would have been a classic.” We accept that if you depict modern American life, if you have any pretensions of setting your movie in the real world at all, some brands will feature. But if Jaws had been animated using Cheerios and Cheerio packaging, if E.T was MADE from Reese’s Pieces, with a giant wrapper for a space suit, that clearly would change the tone and intent of the movie to such a degree that it would no longer be a just a well told story. It would cease to have any pretensions to art, except in the Andy Warhol sense, and would become obnoxious.

          That’s the difference, as I see it. Am I wrong?

          • JTMacc99 says:

            I do not think you are wrong.

            I’m just trying to figure out why so few people decided to ignore it for this movie, but bring it up loudly about other movies.

            My gut instinct right now is because people genuinely enjoyed the movie part of this commercial.

  18. Chad says:

    Ed, the movie is called ‘The LEGO MOVIE’ everyone going to see it expects it to be about LEGOs. The previews showed nothing but LEGO sets and characters. So I just cannot see why you hated it because it was about LEGOs, when that is so obviously the point? I thought a MOVIE review was suppose to critique the movie? I mean come on…I feel that you liked the movie, but hated the subject material. That’s fair, its your opinion, but people who have some interest in this movie must be okay with it being about LEGOs and therefore are paying money to see a movie about LEGOs. But prior to going they wanted to read your review to see what the plot and acting was like. Do you TRUELY believe that people who read your review prior to watching the movie would gain any sort of perspective of what the movie is actually about? Or how good or bad it is from a plot standpoint?No…this is your review with only the parts that actually pertain to what a moviegoer cares about:
    ‘The LEGO MOVIE is about LEGOs. The story and animation is great and you would have to have a LEGO brick for a heart not to enjoy it.’
    Do you see my point? your review is actually not a movie review! Your points are correct by the way, but they did not belong HERE. This is what everyone is complaining about. I agree with what you said about the product placement and all that…but that is not why I read this review, I did not get the information I was looking for. Why didn’t you write a movie review, and then write a follow up story about the other stuff? You keep saying they are connected, but moviegoers with kids don’t care about that, we are taking our kids to a movie that we HOPE we will enjoy together and the only thing we know is that it is about LEGOs…and we are okay with that.
    I ask again…did you like the movie?

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Wow, Chad – where to begin? Okay, I’ll play your game…sort of. I thought it was the most entertaining commercial I’ve seen in ages. I caveat this by pointing out that I like a lot of commercials. Remember that Dr Pepper one where a prom date ended up wrestling with the girl’s Dad? That was a little story and it was very funny – doesn’t change what it was. This isn’t a movie in the purest sense as you imagine it is; you’ve chosen to believe that because you enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, but let’s not fool ourselves. This was a 100 commercial masquerading as a benign and life affirming piece of entertainment. It’s an ad disguised as a movie. It’s a good disguise but in pointing out what it is I’m not missing the point, as you say, I’m hitting it square on. If you want a review that ignores the ontological basis for the entire enterprise, including it’s cultural significance as a feature length promotion, you’ve got a million and one to choose from. I think there’s a gap in the market for a different perspective.

      The division your making, between the story and how it’s presented, between the message and the cultural content of the film, is utterly false.

      Indeed, there are many different roads into a movie, not every review you read must be a formulaic tick box, run though the plot and performances write up. That may be all you’re interested in but don’t presume to speak for everyone. Some people want to know how the engine runs as well as how fast it makes the car go. That’s what this is.

      This is exactly the place for that conversation too because this is a site that’s interested in cultural commentary and opinion, not just “did he like it?” consumer previews. That’s what you’re after by the way – a plot synopsis with some opinion tacked on the end. A review, re-view, a second look, needn’t do that. You’ve seen the movie, you know what it’s about. I’m not here to sell it to you. The point is to discuss what was done.

      I don’t burn up my valuable hours doing it because I looked out there and thought, ‘where’s all the one note recaps with an opinion crowbarred in? I better write some of that shit’ – I do it because I’m interested in looking at the full picture. Pun intended. Useful reviews do that.

      Enjoying the gags and Batman throwing his baterangs at a big button Lego button and missing doesn’t get Lego off the hook for so shamelessly hijacking the medium to sell their bricks. I don’t go to the movies to see the commercials extended to feature length. The ones before the movie are bad enough. If that makes me an idiot or worse, so be it – I’m content, but it seems like a perfectly reasonable and intellectually defensible position to me.

      • ThatEntropyGuy says:

        The “one-note recaps with opinions crowbarred in” are what reviews are. If you wanted to talk about how you think this is all a money-grubbing cash-grab, that’s fine, I won’t fault you for having an opinion on that. But instead of calling it a film review, call it, let’s say, “a dissertation on the ulterior motives behind “The LEGO Movie””.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          Don’t confuse what you want from a review with what a review is. When Graham Greene was talking about Fox’s “ulterior motives” behind the casting of Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie, he was reviewing the movie because he was talking about the stuff that underpins it, its cultural baggage, the decisions taken on the production that impact on how the audience is manipulated, psychologically charmed, etc – ditto when Pauline Kael called Dirty Harry fascistic. What you call a review is a consumer preview. It’s also fairly useless. Someone enjoyed it, did they? Great. So what? Where’s the value? Presumably you don’t seek out reviews just to validate what you already think. If that’s what you want you’ve got the motherload to choose from, but please don’t tell me I have to join in. I’ve got to keep myself awake for a start.

  19. Clark says:


    You nailed it.

    This movie is a Trojan horse, and you’ve upset people because they thought you should just talk about how pretty and shiny the horse is. Nobody wants to believe there’s something going on inside–something contrary, even hypocritical, to the pathos of the film. This culminates in the third act “twist” which really, utterly, destroys the entire movie. Of course there were witty moments, but it doesn’t excuse the bait and switch. Nor does it mask the corporate engineering.

    Consumers have been dumbed down, and suddenly marketing passes as storytelling. You are right to lament and criticize this movie. We are so enthralled with the spectacle we forget that there should be something substantial as well–something universal and meaningful. That’s the difference between marketing and art.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Exactly Clark, exactly.

      Everyone, listen to Clark. He may just save your souls.

      Your kids’ souls too.

      • JTMacc99 says:

        There we go! Somebody who sees Art as Art, Marketing as Marketing, and that Art with Commercial Success should be attainable without the invasive introduction of Marketing. The belief that art SHOULD be something substantial and meaningful.

        I appreciate that opinion, even if I don’t think the world works that way, ever worked that way, or maybe even should work that way.

        But I think that people should keep fighting for it. Well, fighting for it as long as it doesn’t involve looking down on people for enjoying the less substantial and meaningful entertainment options.

    • BlueCollarCritic says:


      A Trojan horse?? You are right in that consumers have been dumbed down and that marketing passes as storytelling but that’s got nothing to do with the LEGO MOVIE.

      “We are so enthralled with the spectacle we forget that there should be something substantial as well–something universal and meaningful. That’s the difference between marketing and art.” That’s exactly what the last 10 minutes was about and it bewilders me that you can’t see this. That is unless you have no children of your own in which case I can see why you would not get it. At worst (and even that’s a stretch) this movie could come across as an extended infomercial for the LEGO toys to those who have no children but it’s a Far Cry from no-artistic marketing.


      Perhaps you simply don’t get the point of the twist so I’ll explain it for you. Everything up until that point has taken place in the mind of the young child who has broken into his father’s Guide Book picture perfect Lego world setup (presumable in their basement) and mixed up the pieces and played out a story in his head that mimics how he feels in reality, the friction between he and his father over the LEGOS themselves. His father is the bad guy Lord Business who dominates (micromanages) the Lego World and the kid is the hero Emmit who is an ordinary every day person living within a predefined cookie-cutter world where everything is done by the rules because the man in charge “Says so”. This is poking fun at parents who often say “because I said so” when confronted by a child as to why they have to do something a certain way.

      When the dad is confronted with everything his son has done so far (what the films various characters have played out so far in the film) he realizes he is the bad guy, Lord Business and that by trying to micro-manage everything and confine his own son’s imagination he has made himself the villain in this story. Realizing this he makes a change for the better by throwing out the Kragle (aka Krazy Glue) and lifting all the rules like “Build By The Guide Only”.

      Sure there are numerous childish jokes but this is first and foremost a kids movie so it needs to be entertaining to them. The fact that this film provides a lesson for adults (don’t be a micro-managing lord Business when it comes to your kids imaginations and play time) while putting forth a positive message for kids (that non-conformity and independent thinking are positive traits and that the real life hero is not the individual super soldier/anti-hero/master-builder (as is so often portrayed in Hollywood films) but that it is the combined efforts of the many (among the everyday people) who are the heroes that save the day and make real change.

      This movie is very pro-liberty, pro-nonconformity and pro-creativity. It also makes fun of a very serious problem in society today and that is the masses doing what is told by those in authority and doing it without question simply because “They say so”, because those in power say so. It’s this multi-level story telling working on multiple levels that has caused so many to give it high remarks.

      Its’ OK to not like the movie and to even be constructively critical of it. What’s not OK and what so many here are ticked off is the emotionally biased review of the film that reads like as if it’s a personal attack on some enemy. Ed doesn’t simply dislike the film, he despises it. Even after all the negative comments (something his review typically do not receive) he’s received of his review and numerous attempts by commenters to explain this to him he still replies with the kind of short sarcastic comments one would expect from prepubescent teenage boys that throw textual temper tantrums on line whenever they don’t get there way.

      • Ed Whitfield says:

        I know, don’t obtuse people drive you mad? If I’m throwing a temper tantrum I’d be interested to read how you characterise most of the comments on this review, or do you make allowances for people recycling the same cliches, even when it’s been pointed out to them that they’ve wilfully misunderstood the point, and when that doesn’t work, insulting the critic, when they agree with you? Anyway, people are entitled to disagree with me, it’d be a boring world if they didn’t, but I, in turn, am entitled to rebut.

        That’s right kids, views other than your own may be valid. Perhaps it’s time to stop being threatened by them and doing your upmost to shut them down. For one thing it’s not going to work.

        Anyway, I’m getting a little tired of people telling me what I can and can’t say and what perspective I’m permitted to have. Here’s the thing movieheads – I’m allowed to make whatever argument I like. I’ve considered my view. Your obligation is to consider it too. In other words, none of this knee jerk, meaningless, “he’s biased”, “he’s emotional”, “he has a weird vendetta against the Lego corporation, you know – like no one does, because typically people don’t spend their days thinking angrily about toy companies” (the choking story was a joke, by the way). Instead consider what I’ve said (and read the replies for clues as to what I actually think, not what you imagine I think) and try to engage with it in a way that doesn’t amount to caricaturing me as a contrarian or a troll or a lunatic, or any of the other thought terminating stuff you may be tempted to spout as a substitute for a good counter argument.

        In fact, what do you say we leave me out of it and talk about the “movie”? It just might work.

        Many spanks.

      • Clark says:

        Hey BlueCollarCritic,

        I appreciate your point of view and response. I actually do have kids and took them to the movie. I’ll tell you why the third act became problematic for me and why the film unraveled (for me, anyway) at that point.


        So the idea of the movie being in the kid’s head is interesting, but it’s not consistent. You can’t suspend disbelief if you break the rules, or at least to do so in a way that aligns with the world-building you’ve already established. The LEGO movie violates this. The son is obviously surprised to find Emmet on the floor after traveling through the tube. Which is to say, if the boy was imaging / playing it all out then Emmet would be there BECAUSE the boy imagined it and wanted it so.

        Further, Emmet has to move on his own. His father sees this, we see it, and the boy is once again surprised to find Emmet after he’s fallen to the floor. I don’t want to sound like I’m over-analyzing the movie here, but I don’t think it works to play it both ways. Either the movie is suppose to have an unexplained anthropomorphizing of the characters (like Toy Story, etc.) or it’s the dream / imagination state of the boy. But not both–it doesn’t work.

        And that’s where the art of storytelling gets supplanted by marketing. The ultimate hypocrisy of the movie is that the theme “everyone / everything is awesome” is actually both the problem AND the solution. Movie LEGO doesn’t need to play it both ways, but LEGO the toy manufacturer does. Why? Because it’s important that LEGO the toy manufacturer promote that it’s fun to buy / play with LEGO’s because (1) you can follow the rules and build something cool; and/or (2) you can break the rules and do whatever you want. There is no right or wrong.

        So Emmet our hero has to use his “follow the directions” skills to build the exact version of a ship that allows them into the skyscraper. If they don’t follow the rules, they fail. So they do, and it works. But the citizens have to break free from that and build their own creations to fight the micro-managers at the end. The movie plays it both ways–the problem and the solution are the same. Which is another way of saying that the problem was never really a problem at all. And that’s marketing, not storytelling.

        So we turn to a third act to try and draw out some kind of character arc, only it doesn’t work. The father is bad, not because he micro-manages his son or the pretend / not pretend LEGO world, but because he doesn’t let the boy play with his LEGOs. This is an important distinction, because playing with LEGO’s IS micromanaging them (the robot device is simply a clever way of explaining it within the LEGO world view).

        So the cardinal sin of the film is to not play with LEGOs.

        Consider the goal of Mr. Business. His ultimate ambition is to freeze the LEGO’s in place–to freeze them so they become unplayable. The same goal is shared by both antagonists (or both manifestations of the same antagonist if you prefer).

        So the solution to the film is not some kind of growth from one state to another (because the problem and solution are the same). The ultimate message here is to play with your LEGO’s (either by following the directions or just doing what you want). And again, that a marketing message wrapped in a movie. That’s why I call it a Trojan horse.

        And hey, it’s not the worst marketing message in the world. I mean, sure, I want my kids to play with LEGO’s and use their imagination. Fine.

        But I want storytelling to go deeper. I want there to a moral that is more human, more motivating, and more substantial. The failing of the LEGO movie is not that it promotes anything bad per se, but the missed opportunity to promote something great. The producers had the minds and hearts of my children for two hours. That they chose to simply create an entertaining commercial just isn’t good enough. I think we owe our kids a bit more.

  20. Chad says:

    Thank you for your reply. So now I get where you are coming from based on your own words:
    If you want a review that ignores the ontological basis for the entire enterprise, including it’s cultural significance as a feature length promotion, you’ve got a million and one to choose from. –
    Indeed, there are many different roads into a movie, not every review you read must be a formulaic tick box, run though the plot and performances write up. That may be all you’re interested in but don’t presume to speak for everyone. Some people want to know how the engine runs as well as how fast it makes the car go. That’s what this is. –
    again, I get you and what you wrote, and now I know and hopefully so do other people that you do not write movie reviews in the traditional sense. So the % of the population that wants to hear this type of opinion (I am guessing not a lot because there are very few positive comments on this review) now know who to go to for that type of review.
    However, I will not be taking your opinion into consideration when deciding to spend my money on a ticket. Because I spend that money to be entertained and I don’t give a thought as to the ‘road that made this movie’ as interesting or corrupt as it may be. I simply want to be entertained.
    I think the main problem that people are having with your D grade is that when they saw this movie they laughed, smiled, re-hashed the funniest parts while driving home, and basically forgot about their boring, hum-drum, day-to-day work lives for a brief time. And you decided to rain on everyone’s good time with this review and tried to put a bad taste in their smiling mouths. Basically…how dare you try to ruin somethng I enjoyed. Thats all, I’m done. I am sorry you did not enjoy it like so many of us have. Everything was AWESOME.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Chad, as I’ve just told you, my opinion is designed to be consumed after you’ve bought a ticket not beforehand. What you see or don’t see is no business of mine.

      It was an awesome commercial, I quite agree. I’m not sure how pointing that out ruins it. After all that Dr Pepper ad was great. It’s just important we recognise things for what they are, else one day we may forget what going to the movies, business or no business, is really all about.

      • Chad says:

        ..thought I was done…guess not. I still am not satified with your D rating. If you liked the ‘commercial’ then why give it a D? The only reason I can think of is so that your review would stick out from the others and therefore people like me would read it. So you say it was awesome…but was about a mass marketed toy…therefore…D!?!? why not B-? I mean what is your scale? EW does this thing where they rate by catagory (acting, visuals, etc). It seems like you gave those catagories very favorable grades, then a poor grade for the subject matter.
        I don’t know man, I am trying to see your point and understand, and hopefully you can see that I am not being rude or calling names…but to make this big of a stink about product placement in a movie that everyone knows is about that product prior to going just seems really REALLY lame.
        Here is an example: Lets say Robocop featured a big scene where Cop and his kid played with a LEGO set for 5 minutes while they discussed something. Then later the kid dies, and the COP builds his design for the robosuit out of LEGOs while crying about his son. Then LEGO puts out a ROBOCOP set to buy. THAT is shameless product placement, un-expected, in your face, sneaky product placement. Or to use our favorie pop, Dr. Pepper…some woman complained that those Dr. Pepper 10 ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH commercials were sexist…of course they were, they were trying to be sexist on purpose! Actually they made fun of men more than women if you really think about it. My point is…when a movie is suppose to be about LEGOs you can’t say its a bad movie because it is in fact about LEGOs. If it was a commercial for LEGOs but in an underhanded sort of way, I am with you…but this? Not awesome.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          Chad, this grade only exists in your mind. I don’t grade or star movies, I prefer a slightly more nuanced take than that. I’m sure you’d like a grade, then you could apply shorthand to what I’d written, but I don’t grade movies for just that reason. Things aren’t black and white. A movie can contain both good and bad elements – sometimes they overlap. I saw this thing in these terms: it was a brilliantly crafted, cleverly made commercial. The Dr Pepper ad was 30 seconds. This is 100 minutes. Differences there are none. We wouldn’t call the Dr Pepper commercial a movie so why are we saying this is one? Because it’s in the title? I can call an orange an apple but it’s still an orange.

          You say I’ve made a stink about it – I just put the review out there. It’s you guys that have taken issue with it. Am I not permitted to talk about the commercial aspect? It is a forbidden subject? Warners made it, they put it out there – they presumably expected someone to notice. It’s not aimed at me, I understand that, but it’s because I choose to write about these things dispassionately that I don’t feel the need to plug myself in to the mind of the target audience. You knew it was product before you went but you didn’t care. That’s okay. For me the form coupled with the message left a bad taste. That’s my view.

          But yeah, at the risk of repeating myself, it’s not the movie being made of Lego alone that’s the problem. It’s that a film designed to persuade fathers and sons alike to play with Lego, that rams home the point by making that a plot point, simultaneously tells its audience, “think for yourself”, “reject the thought terminating garbage beamed into your brains on TV” (they’re careful not to say, “at the movies”), “let your imaginations run wild”. So here’s a flick that conflates brand values with values, and that isn’t awesome – it’s not awesome at all.

  21. Salmo says:

    So you enjoyed the movie, you think it’s well-made, you had a good time watching it, but you give it a bad review because you think the people who made it had profit in mind? How do you ever enjoy anything?

  22. Gary Wilcox says:

    ……the movie holds a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Your review seems to avoid the actual movie while focusing on the fact that LEGO is going make more money. You may as well hate Marvel, D.C., Disney, etc.

  23. xjxjxj says:

    You’re an idiot how did you not like those movies.

  24. John Smith says:

    Hi Ed,

    I enjoyed The LEGO Movie, but I’m really glad that your review exists. Your points were thought provoking and accurate, and even though I disagree with you, I very much respect your opinion.

    It sucks that everybody’s been jumping down your throat for not liking something they like, and for not conforming to the popular opinion. That was the entire message of the movie, wasn’t it?

    Thanks for the great review.

  25. JC Denton says:

    I just feel the urge to post that I also dared not to like the Lego Movie. I thought it wasn’t that funny, the plot was boring until the very end, and it was full corporate innuendo BS.

    Buddy of mine that went with me to watch the movie also didn’t like it. Neither of us swallowed Legos during our childhood.

    Good, well-thought out review. Thanks.

  26. liam says:

    Doesn’t it make just as much sense that the filmmakers were using Lego to sell their film rather than the inverse?

    I can totally picture a board of film executives “We need to make a film that kids will go see, what’s popular with kids? FUCKING LEGO!”.

    The Lego video games a currently extremely popular with kids, so it’s not as if this movie just came out of the left field, no McDonalds video game has ever sold 100,000 copies in it’s debut month.

  27. Mickey Sheahan says:

    So what if it’s the greatest ad ever? It doesn’t change the fact that it’s awesome? So what if we are giving the product money, the product is awesome!

    You knew from the start that it was going to be a huge movie built by blocks! You might as well have written this review before this movie was released. This is one of the worst reviews I’ve ever seen.

  28. Catherine says:

    Ehhh. Just because something’s purpose is to sell a product doesn’t necessarily doom it to advertisement status. I don’t believe that intent ultimately negates its effectiveness as art or entertainment…remember Pokemon? Or Transformers, which managed to produce some pretty great tv series recently. I don’t even think this was about revitalizing a brand; the demand was already there. It wasn’t like that battleship movie.

    If its anti-corporatist, pro-creative/individualist messages were setting off your bullshit radar, fine. I can see the irritating irony in corporate execs crafting narratives that somehow critique consumer culture while simultaneously contributing to it, but as far as corporations go, I don’t think lego is part of the problem. If this was apple, or like, burger king, I’d be uncomfortable.

    And it’s just damningly clever sometimes, man. The dystopian setting eerily reminiscent of our own modern speed culture and the digs that followed were pretty effing unapologetic for a kid’s movie (listen to popular music! drink overpriced coffee! etc.). I get that they purposely shied away from antagonizing themselves, but to be bothered by that you’d have to be bothered by almost any movie that tackles the same themes. I can’t blame you at all for wanting to point this stuff out, though.

    And as strangely conflicted as I am about the source of the movie’s messages, I can’t hate because everything else was clever enough to make me shrug it off. IMO, of course…but weird humor is my weak spot, sooo.

    • Catherine says:


      I mean, how much more obvious of a marketing ploy can you get then “gotta catch ’em all”? Does it matter that some people really liked the show and its characters? Are all of the episodes merely commercials? Does it matter if someone’s trying to get you to buy stuff?

      Or like, maybe you don’t actually enjoy thoughtful dialectic and would rather continue responding to replies you can easily spot logical inconsistencies in. Or anyone reaffirming your intellectual superiority over us peasants who can’t see beyond our own cultural imprisonment (~~scary ghost noises~~). Or maybe since it isn’t another opportunity for a click-bait headline on rotten tomatoes, you just don’t care. Either way, I’m sorry I wasted my time.

      • Ed Whitfield says:

        As am I. The thing about replies with logical inconsistencies, including the argument that this review is but click bait, is that there are so many, I just gotta catch ’em all. I think I was inspired by the Pokemon series.

        • Catherine says:

          It’s unfortunate that the only way I can get a response out of you is to leave you an easy target.

          Why do you only respond to people who are a) obviously stupid or b) trying to provoke you?

          Btdubs, there’s a really big problem with the generalization that commercials /= art. I’m not going to go into it since you obviously don’t give a shit, but here’s a few thinking points. Because thinking is fun!

          Tarsem Singh directed The Fall. He also directed several commercials, many of which act like short films ( Why would his films be considered art, but not his commercials?

          Campbell released a set of 4 Andy Warhol pop art cans. Was this just a marketing gimmick, or a celebration of one of the most influential pieces of our time? Or was it art in itself?

          The 80s Trasnformers movie introduced lots of new characters (that you could buy). Was this movie just an extravagant commercial?

          And you haven’t answered my question about pokemon. You rapscallion, you.

          • Ed Whitfield says:

            I’m sorry Catherine, you’re right – I’m being lazy. It’s good sport responding to the goads but you make some serious points so let’s talk about them.

            There’s no question that a commercial can be art and has been appropriated and/or remade as the same, and it’s true that sometimes even movies can be art, and stone the crows it’s even the case that some filmic artists, I’m thinking the likes of David Fincher and Ridley Scott, cut their teeth in advertising, honing their visual style. Michael Bay was a commercial director too but let’s not get into that.

            I think the Lego movie is a feature length commercial. Assuming you accept that argument, does it matter? This is the killer question. You talk about the Transformers movie and Pokemon and those are well chosen examples because they are of course aimed squarely at children: they exist to sell toys. So using other media and narrative fiction to sell toys is nothing new. Correct. No argument there. Said media may even have artistic merit. So why have I wasted time and key depressions honing in on the Lego flick, you ask? Well aside from it being the most conspicuous, balls out example of a movie made to sell toys that I can think of in recent memory, what I found particularly obnoxious wasn’t so much the marketing strategy, though I’d much prefer movies only existed to sell themselves and not ancillary products, not even the target audience, though again, zeroing in on young children is somewhat distasteful in my view – though that’s a matter of opinion I accept – it was the hypocrisy. Everyone involved did sterling work, I won’t argue – it was well written, directed, animated and well conceived but it is, perhaps, a little too clever for its own good. If you accept what I think is obvious, namely that the film was designed to be a moral tale; its values bound to the brand and its use – the story plotted to that end – one’s inclined to ask why they thought it necessary to add the critique of corporate greed and the stuff about individualism and not following the herd. It’s a bit like an artist creating a work called “Museum without Walls: Art is free”, then putting it in a gallery with an admission fee and reproductions ready to be bought in the gift shop.

            We know why that stuff is there of course; it’s designed to appeal to adults, to appeal to their sense of irony, presumably to mitigate against that little voice in their head that says, “this film exists to commercialise the playtime between me and my children and install brand loyalty in us both”. It’s a testament to how well the film is made that it’s sent many a parent away delighted. Everyone involved knew what they were doing, in terms of tone, balancing story telling conventions with the money shots – namely pushing the various brand lines front and centre, and they executed it perfectly. I think it’s legitimate to point this out – I found it incredibly cynical. Is it cynical if you don’t care and choose to see it as a feel good flick? I think so, yes; I think it is what it is regardless of how effective it is.

            So yeah, it was fun, it was entertaining – it was, as I said in my review, a great commercial. Can you appreciate the individual elements? Sure. But of course the movie wasn’t designed to be consumed elementally. I make that point because I think intent in this case, is important.

            And that’s how I feel about it.

    • Faxon says:

      “Just because something’s purpose is to sell a product doesn’t necessarily doom it to advertising status.” That is in fact, the definition of advertising. Websters online: “something (such as a short film or a written notice) that is shown or presented to the public to help sell a product or to make an announcement.” So yes, if you agree that the purpose of this movie was to sell product, then yes, it is an advertisement. Why is this so upsetting to so many people?

      • Catherine says:

        When something’s intent is to sell, that doesn’t always mean it is “just” a commercial; I believe it can be other things as well.

        When it comes to art, lines can get blurry. I don’t even have to argue that this movie’s not a commercial because that shouldn’t determine whether or not it’s effective in its medium – because it is a movie. (The question is: is it also a commercial?) If you break down the movie by its parts (direction, script, animation etc.), you’ll find that it was constructed by artists who did exactly what other artists in other films do, and they did it quite wonderfully.

        It’s a though call, but interesting nonetheless.

  29. Keith H. says:

    I am curious, is this about the medium being used, or something else? Just a quick perusal of YouTube, you can find some wonderful stop-motion animation using Lego bricks for all sorts of things. Some of the funniest are re-enactments of Eddy Izzard’s comedy bits about the “Death Star Canteen”. These are brilliant in the way that it shows off both the comic abilities of Mr. Izzard and the talent of the stop-motion animators.

    No way do any of these feel like a promotion of Lego, nor that of Star Wars or Eddy Izzard, but of the skills of those that put those 3 things together.

    If someone were to make a different stop-motion movie using clay, do you think it is about the “clay industry”? How dare they! I want my money back from all of those Nick Park movies. He was obviously trying to sell me Play-Doh.

    Now I guess you would then argue, hey if they had called it the “Play-Doh Movie”, then you would have had the same issue.

    Then it is about the title.

    It is supposed to be about the story. How well it is told. Can I put this story in a different environment and still make it work? Does that really matter. Forbidden Planet is a retelling of the Tempest. Does the medium or setting take away from the story, or add a new dimension to it?

    Somehow, I think that you never actually had Lego bricks (so you never could have sued), but probably were forced to use Lincoln Logs by caring, competent parents.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      The story of this commercial is about a boy playing with his Father’s Lego and the two learning to share their Lego playing experience. The movie’s made of Lego. It’s a Lego commercial. Still, kudos for willfully misunderstanding the argument.

      • Keith H. says:

        You are so dismissive as to be arrogant. I posit several points and instead of engaging in a debate, you “stick to your guns”. I am not the one who is “misunderstanding the argument,” it is you who are avoiding it.

        Lego is part of the Zeitgeist. Another example, if the movie had been about baseball, and called ‘The Baseball Movie’, would you be all up in arms telling me how it was a 100-minute commercial for MLB? How did you feel about the movie ‘The Sandlot’, then? Please tell me you hated that one, for the same reasons. I would bet that you didn’t have an issue there.

        Go ahead and post a snarky remark. That, unlike your reviews, you seem to be good at. (Hey, I can do it too!)

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          What you can’t do Keith, is understand the argument that’s been presented to you. There’s a difference between a thing and a brand. A baseball movie needn’t be about a real world league, a Nick Park movie isn’t necessarily an advert for the type of clay used, but when a film and a product are synonymous, when a story is crafted to sell a specific product, when the story’s values are deliberately tethered to those of a very specific brand, then what you have is not a movie but a commercial for that product. Can you understand the difference? I enjoyed the commercial, it was one of the best i’ve ever seen for a product, but I’m not going to pretend it’s a movie. I’ll leave that to the people who made it.

  30. Graham says:

    The movie was enjoyable and pushed enough of the necessary buttons to drum up much welcomed magic and immersion. The biggest thing that bothers me about this review is what one of the other guys already pointed out. You recognize it stands on its own as a good movie yet still rated it negatively. The score is disingenuous at best, hypocritical view bating at worst. I’m sure plenty of comments have given you that twinge of varying degrees of angry and annoyed. A few likely made you realize how you were incorrect in some respects but stubbornly you press on. Pushing a narrative forward that paints you as some kind of hero or seer capable of seeing what the plebians can’t. We can see the commercial aspects but we’re also capable of objectively recognizing what was right. You aren’t. Which isn’t a crime although it does inspire people to call you out on the bs and the agenda driven rating.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      “A few likely made you realize how you were incorrect in some respects but stubbornly you press on.”

      Graham, I hereby crown you the new king of wishful thinking.

      Re: all the other nonsense about objectivity, which is impossible by the way, hypocrisy, etc – I refer you to all previous replies.

  31. tim earnshaw says:

    Hey Ed – wait until you see The Fuzzy Felt© Movie! helmed and scripted by Quentin Tarantino, the whole movie is realised in Fuzzy Felt©, and [SPOILERS] tells the heartwarming story of “Fuzzy” (Scarlett O’Hara), a daydreaming little girl who realises her potential when she creates a stunning three-dimensional Fuzzy Felt© world using just the power of her imagination, where she befriends the grumpy “Spikey” (voiced by Spike Jonze) and confronts him with his inherent fuzziness.

  32. Josh says:

    Man you sound just like all those people I am not friends with, on purpose.

  33. Cstrieby says:

    You say the movie is a giant commercial, but you say it like there is something intrinsically wrong with that. Forgive me for being naive, but I was under the impression that every holly wood production’s first and foremost goal was to suck my wallet dry, so why is the LEGO movie so much worse? Because they are trying to get my money outside the theater too? I’m having a hard time seeing where all these blurry lines are being crossed.

    I paid to see this movie twice and I regret nothing. It was great. Also, I applaud the brilliance of getting people to pay to watch advertisements. I respect competence. I hope in the future we have to pay for every advertisement we want to see.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      I wasn’t going to repeat myself, because I’ve said it a few times now, but fuck it – this comment’s worth it. All movies are products to be sold, they’re in the business of selling themselves, but there’s a difference, no really there is, between a studio selling a story and a studio selling a story designed to sell a specific product. That’s the point when the movies cease to become movies and turn into feature length commercials. That’s my objection. It’s even more obnoxious for being a feature length commercial targeted at children. You enjoyed it, that’s great, but that doesn’t change what it is. So yes, there’s something intrinsically wrong with it. It’s cynical beyond belief.

  34. Kim says:

    thanks for the poignant review. I couldn’t agree more. I sat there the entire movie confused. What is the message? Should we be unique or is it ok to be average? Are the master builders the fools and the Emmetts of the world are the heroes? Should we buy lego sets or just a big mess of legos and create our own vision? if it’s the latter, why are you already selling sets with instructions? So confusing, so stupid, so lazy. I was heartily disappointed – wished I’d seen Frozen again.

  35. Faxon says:

    OK I did not see this movie and will not see this movie. Just look at the title of the movie, the fact that it is an acurate descrition of the content,that is enough for me to know that it is a feature length commercial. I’m going to PAY to watch an advert? There is an article on Alternet dissing the movie for being pro-corporate pro-conformist. And many of the responses are similar to these: “What’s the matter with you, can’t you just enjoy a good movie,quit reading so much into it blah blah blah.” I thought perhaps people are so innured to such corporate shilling that they can’t see it anymore. No,it’s worse: people are so subsumed by the corporate ethos that they are personally insulted because their way of life and world-view are being criticized when some rare voice points out the obvious. The description that this movie was made by corp brief is an excellent turn of phrase. “I buy therfore I am.” Just beause a person is “entertained” by wel-made product does not make said product sacrosant from criticism. I probably have this attitude because I almost choked to death on a barbie doll head as a child.

  36. Milton says:

    “The greatest commercial ever made” is the perfect tagline. It brought me here from Rotten Tomatoes and I think you have a new reader.

  37. Teelar says:

    What I find most interesting about a lot of the reviews (including this one) for The Lego Movie is how little they are ABOUT THE MOVIE. Seriously, only one character is named here and nothing is mentioned of plot, visual effects, story telling, etc. You know- the things that make a movie a movie. This kind of neglect is as insulting and useless as what the reviewers complain about. Okay, I get your point, but what did you think of the MOVIE?

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      You’re a little late to the party with this argument. See the gazillion replies already posted addressing this false dichotomy and other fascinating questions.

      • Teelar says:

        I can’t be too late if you’re still replying.
        If I’m not the only one to point this out, that’s comforting. Explain where there is a false dichotomy? Or even what you understand that phrase to mean? You didn’t review the movie. I’m not asking for spoilers, but there should be some evidence that the movie was even viewed.
        And on a disgusting note- who includes in their review the idea of the insemination of children, psychologically or otherwise? There MUST have been better word

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          A better word to convey a concept I find distasteful and unpleasant? No, I think I chose the right one as your reaction proves. It’s a pity you don’t share the sentiment, just round on the word but then people’s attention focused in the wrong place seems to be a fairly typical reaction to this review.

          I wouldn’t take any comfort from making the same frivolous point others have made. Congratulations, you don’t know what the purpose of a review is either. Buy yourself a milkshake.

          The other replies answer your questions at length, including this stupid idea that the movie wasn’t reviewed because it doesn’t focus on whether Lego Batman was funny or not. Why not read them? They’re mighty informative.

  38. Teelar says:

    I’ll just drink your milkshake.
    But you DO make the same frivolous points as other reviewers do.
    A full two paragraphs on the Lego toy, not the Lego movie.
    Yours isn’t a bad review. It’s just a bad persuasive essay. Not that you have to follow the five paragraph essay format, but something of a coherent structure should be apparent. It’s not enough to say it “is a fraud”. Tell us what about it other than other vague comments that made you come to that conclusion.
    And at some point, Ed, even you have to realize that if we’re all saying the same thing, maybe we’ve hit on something here. Insanity is majority rules. Even those who LIKED your review can’t agree with you.
    I’m not one of those who are telling you to quit, or that you suck, or yada yada, but you so irrationally defend your work and send out insults that it’s become nigh on impossible to listen to you at all.
    And the reaction to your use of that word in its context wasn’t ‘wow, this movie must really be terrible’. Appropriately it was ‘wow, what a disgusting thing to say’, thereby taking any context of in relation to the movie completely out of my head. That one was a little too much, buddy. Be a grown up and admit that it was inappropriate. Seriously? You’re going to defend that? On the internet? Here is a false dichotomy- you’re either so perverted that you don’t see anything wrong with it OR you’re so stubborn that you can’t even admit that it was wrong and will let us believe that you’re a pervert.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Leave my milkshake alone, I don’t know where you’ve been.

      So you’re not telling me I suck, yada yada, just that I’m probably a pervert? With friends like you…

      Alright Teelar, here’s the thing. As a critic I have many options open to me about how I’m going to discuss a movie. There are many ways in as it were. The emphasis doesn’t have to be the same every time. Your mistake is to assume that only a conversation about say, plot and character, is valid – that no other approach constitutes a review. Not so. As I said in a previous reply, that you’re obviously not going to read, Graham Greene wasn’t off topic when he talked about the padeophilic fantasy in Wee Willie Winkie – he got sued for suggesting Fox had used Shirley Temple in this way, but he wasn’t off topic. I’m sure, had the Internet existed in the ’30s, someone would have told him he should just talk about whether he enjoyed the story too. Pauline Kael wasn’t off topic when she discussed the fascistic fantasy that underpins Dirty Harry. These are both examples of reviews that look at the cultural underpinning of the film. The reason that it’s a false dichotomy, that it’s not a binary choice between this approach and concentrating on the story, is because a film is a cultural artifact, and the stuff that informs its production and attempts to manipulate the audience, both psychologically and emotionally, are indivisible from the movie itself: these things are the movie.

      Not the stuff you want to think about perhaps but why should I worry about that?

      The Lego Movie was a 100 minute commercial. Not only it is valid to talk about that, because the ontology of a film matters, but in this case it’s also a fundamental part of the film’s design – its story, its plot, its values – they’re all bound up with the brief that informed the film’s construction. By concentrating on these things, not only am I reviewing the movie, I’m reviewing it completely.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and punish my gimp.

  39. Rob says:

    Your review seemed to be more a cynical rant about corporate ideology than talking about the film itself. Consider updating with actual biting content that has an aim. How did the characters fail? How did the plot fail? How did other component elements like music and animation fail? Why didn’t you like the non-abstract setting, and why is abstract design really important to have in a Lego movie for you to appreciate the commercial value for a product that sells itself in fairly specific sets as well as bulk tubs?

    Why should we listen to you instead of the majority of other critics out there?

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Rob, I’m going to refer you to my other replies on your rant and rage against the corporate machine point, because I’m tired of saying the same thing a hundred different ways, knowhattamean?

      On your original point, namely why should you listen to me, well the answer is you shouldn’t necessarily. I’m not interested in telling you what to think, I tell you what I think. A further thought is that people seek out reviews for different reasons. Some people don’t know what to think, so look at reviews to spark up a few ideas and have something to kick against, some people have very strong views on what they’ve seen and read around to see what others are saying, maybe to get involved in a conversation like this one, and some people, who have a view but are none too secure, look for reviews that tally with their feelings as a form of vindication. Mr or Mrs Critic agrees with me and that validates my opinion, etc. In my experience the last cohort react most violently when some bastard has the audacity to write something that not only doesn’t chime with their experience, but basically constitutes the opposite. Often that’s read as a personal attack on said people, as if the likes of me marked them for a dressing down and honed my piece to extract the maximum amount of anger and resentment from this complacent group. It’s nonsense and it’s high time the focus shifted to the movie where it belongs.

      So the short answer is, listen to me if you want, don’t if you don’t. Other views are available.

      • Rob says:

        Fair enough, but if the exposition is only found in your replies, then It’s my opinion that the review itself is lacking. I’m also going to take this reply to mean that you didn’t have a problem with any technical aspect of the film not mentioned.

        As for the Lego movie itself, I haven’t seen it so I have nothing to defend even if I wanted to. I don’t particularly go searching for negative reviews to put them down. Instead, because some offer interesting insights not often mentioned, I enjoy reading reviews with outcomes far outside consensus.

        I know reviews are subjective and that every critic worth his or her salt has their own methods. And I’ve felt the fan rage when submitting my own negative reviews for things other people feel loyal to (see the endless cat fight between Playstation and Xbox crowds). It’s impossible to pretend that publicized product reviews have zero influence on readers or viewers, so I try to list what I like as well as what I don’t like to provide as fair a result as I can manage.

        Kudos for standing by your opinion and not folding to the hordes. I just wish there was more of it up front.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          I don’t accept the exposition is only found in the replies, the review sets out my argument very clearly. The replies are in response to those people that asked, like you, ‘why did you talk about y when I think you should be focusing on x?’. I think some people are struggling with the idea that I could enjoy the animation and recognise the thing’s cleverly written – you’ll note I say these things, it’s plain to see – while still finding the brief that informs the work cynical and obnoxious.

          I’m afraid I don’t understand why this is difficult for some readers, nor why this constitutes not talking about the film in their imaginations. This is what’s fundamental to the thing and it’s more important than whether the relationship between two Lego characters was endearing or not. To take an extreme example, because I’d like to be the first person on the Internet to conflate Lego with Nazism, one can appreciate Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will as a great piece of filmmaking while despising a) its reason to exist and b) its values. No, before anyone starts, I’m not arguing the Lego movie is akin to Hitlerian propaganda, only that a movie can be well made and fulfill its purpose brilliantly while still being underpinned by junk values – in Lego’s case, corporatism. A movie, as I say, that’s worse for pretending to attack that self same interest.

          • Rob says:

            No, it’s not difficult to understand, but I think you’re struggling a bit. Look if I were to reduce my commentary here to a single sentence, it would be “is that all?”

            If focusing on one negative aspect of the feature is your desire, then that’s your prerogative as a film critic and artistic decision as a writer. If other people find the approach lacking or otherwise anemic, or simply don’t agree with it, then that’s theirs when they provide feedback.

            It is then your choice whether or not to succumb to the critical feedback (or even read it), change or add to your opinions, or leave them be. I couldn’t care less which path you take. I’m just saying that you I think you should focus on more than one aspect up front (which doesn’t mean drowning out single-line comments about characters or environment with a followup rant about corporate ideology), and not limit your “actual substance” to sarcastic followup replies scattered up and down a list of people aghast that you didn’t like a movie they did. Again, your choice.

            If I wanted to witness unrepentant obsession, I’d sit in on a Star Wars convention and watch plump Jedi beat Vulcan interlopers about the pointy ears with colorful sticks. I’d even bring a mixer and my laptop along to provide sound effects so they didn’t have to mouth their own.

          • Ed Whitfield says:

            Well it’s kind of you to come to my aid but sorry, I don’t think I’m struggling at all. If there is a struggle it exists within those readers that can’t or won’t accept that in some instances, a review that deals with what’s under the hood, as opposed to how shiny the bodywork is, is more useful and more relevant than the plot commentary they’re used to. It depends on the film of course. This was such a “film”.

            Some readers will disagree, but if I feel the review’s been misrepresented I think it’s right to bat back those comments and challenge the assertions made. You’ve decided this review focuses on a single aspect. I contend that “aspect” is the movie entire; it’s the fundament and substance of the thing and in discussing it, because it informs the movie’s conception, design, content and values, I’m talking about the this film in its entirety. I don’t accept it’s a “rant” as you crudely caricature it, nor that it lacks substance. I’m sorry you found it lacking but it is, in my view at least, just about all there is to say of interest about this thing. Also, in the name of concision, I’m not going to expand to breaking point on every single sentence I write, else the body of the review would be tens of thousands of words, and nobody wants to read that. The place for that follow up discussion, assuming it’s necessary, is here, in the comments section. It would be nice if people read those replies, natch, because if i’m obsessed with anything it’s encouraging people to read what I say in response before they comment, so I don’t have to have the same argument 50 times. Different arguments, no problem, but please God not the same ones.

            What hope?

          • Rob says:

            Yes, it would be nice if people were to read your replies so you don’t have to repeat yourself. But as I scrolled down the list, there’s post after post of people replying in dismay that you didn’t like their movie. I could only take so much of that and the samey replies before I skipped to the end to add my own input.

            A similar thing on a larger scale can be found on forums. In response to something, members will often tell someone to refer to a previous post (or read all of them) without any specific search reference or direct link. As if there’s nothing better for someone to do.

          • Ed Whitfield says:

            Well I’d argue that the time taken to scroll and read is about the same as the time it takes to re-write someone else’s point in long, derivative paragraphs, and a much better use of their time.

          • Rob says:

            Not really, no. It rarely takes me longer than a couple of minutes to write a long-winded post, whereas soaking in an entire “thread” of repetitive material will often leave my eyes feeling glazed over, rereading a sentence repeatedly as my brain tries to kick its way out through the back of my head to go hide between the pages of more interesting material.

            No, it’s more entertaining to write. And given the length, quantity and snark of your own replies, I’d say that neither does it put you off by a cripplingly significant amount of time nor does is it particularly something you loathe doing.

  40. Teelar says:

    Yeah, that’s still not false dichotomy.
    And I think a lot of us understand the concept of subtext. I imagine you think of yourself as a highly stylized non-formatted writer who still “nails it!” in your reviews. Kind of like Paul in the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’. You are “shadow casting” your reviews, so unorthodox and from a different angle yet undeniably brilliant. Reread Kael and note how she explains what she is talking about.
    Better yet, reread your last reply and note how even you acknowledge that Greene ‘TALKED ABOUT THE PADEOPHILIC FANTASY IN WEE WILLIE WINKIE’. He talked about a part of the movie to strengthen his point.
    Again, this is just simple English 101 persuasive writing. It’s freshman year of HIGH SCHOOL writing requirement.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      I’m delighted you spent your day thumbing through your big book of definitions but perhaps the time would have been better spent re-reading my review and your own comments on it. You say x doesn’t constitute a review only y does, that if y is a review than x must be something else – what was it, an essay? That’s a false dichotomy. False because both x and y constitute a review, just different types (in this case useful and useless). But yeah, facts can be ugly, and yes, a sentence can begin with a conjunction – if your English teacher says otherwise tell them they’re fired!

      If you don’t presume to tell me how I think of myself, because amateur psychology ain’t your bag, I’ll try not to assume you’re dead from the neck up.

      You miss the point with Greene. For him WWW was about that casting – that was his focus. He wouldn’t have passed your “but why don’t you talk about the story – did you enjoy it or didn’t you?” test. He explained how he felt very well and in doing so he summed up the movie very succinctly. I’m certainly not comparing myself to him! No fear. But this review marks my conclusions about the entire movie, conception, production and content, clearly. Instead of focusing on what I chose to omit, perhaps you should concentrate on what was included, as it covers the entirety of the thing – the stuff that underpins it. That’s not quite the same as a discussion on subtext, because that would simply be a one sided recounting of the implicit stuff the filmmakers had put in there. That wouldn’t cover the hypocrisy, which is something different and the film’s made to measure corporate template, which is something different again. It’s to be contrasted with the subtext, certainly, which, er, is why I did just that.

      Anyway, I can’t give you what you want, I’m sorry. But I take some comfort from knowing you’ll have no trouble finding it elsewhere.

      I bid you to go in peace to love and serve Lord Business.

  41. Name says:

    Why was it that you reviewed this negatively? It was a great, funny movie that kept everyone in the theater laughing. You and another five people are part of that four percent on rotten tomatoes that called it rotten. Why did you consider it a commercial? It was not advertisement to Lego, because we all know that everyone in the USA knows about Legos. What are the movies that you actually liked?

  42. Ellis says:

    I enjoyed the movie, but can respect the issues you pointed out, Ed. Also, great sense or humor!

  43. Teelar says:

    But, LISTEN TO YOURSELF! First, you say Greene wrote about the padeophilic fantasy of WWW, now you write of his problem with the casting! That’s more information than you gave us in your review of the Lego Movie! And I could give two s**ts about whether or not you liked the story, just at least give us some evidence that you actually watched it. Seriously, your review reads like someone who has seen the trailer and read the promotional material. That’s why it’s amateur.

    I HAVE read Kael’s review of Dirty Harry and guess what? I can tell she watched the movie.

    Here’s the thing Ed: You are a master of hearing what you want to hear and putting words into the mouths of others. That’s what you did in your attempt to create a false dichotomy with the content of my reply, with your ‘x and y’ b.s.

    BTW- As the (as always) professional Mr. Whitfield feels that bringing up grammar is necessary, I feel I should point out that I recognize that I ended a sentence with a preposition back there. For those of you keeping tabs.

    So, go ahead, hurl an insult, accuse me of having to refer to a dictionary (sometimes I do, even a thesaurus every once in a while, only arrogant assholes pretend they don’t need to).

    One more thing, you told me almost a week ago I was too late for the party on this one. Why has the host not made last call? Because he loves to hear himself talk.

  44. LegoLost says:

    You’re spot on. I nearly fell asleep during this bore-fest. I may have chuckled once or twice but, other than that, I wanted to walk out from all the cheesy and predicable nonsense. Like all the Lego boxes, this movie too, should have been rated ages 7-12.

  45. Aaron says:

    Here is what I dont understand. Who wants to see a movie that PROMOTES a corporate agenda. I can tell you watch a lot of fox news to comment about its anticorporate agenda. Nobody else pays attention to it except tea party morons like yourself. Do you root for Scrooge? I mean where does Marley get off telling him to share the wealth. What a communist. Dont you notice that every great movie about struggle is about struggle AGAINST plutocrats by the little man? Braveheart, Star Wars etc…The movie is just an appeal to the underdog its not trying to subvert your precious ‘merica.

    • Rob says:

      What I don’t understand is how you got any of what you said out of this review.

    • BlueCollarCritic says:


      “Here is what I dont understand. Who wants to see a movie that PROMOTES a corporate agenda. I can tell you watch a lot of fox news to comment about its anticorporate agenda. Nobody else pays attention to it except tea party morons like yourself….”

      I certainly disagree with Mr Whitfield on his review but at least my comments and most others are about what Ed has actually written. I would say you’re reading between the lines but there are no lines in his review that can even be remotely associated with what you are talking about. Did you post your comments to the wrong article? Perhaps you mixed up the window with Eds article with the ‘PALAC (People Against Logic And Comprehension)’ forum you had in another window? That would certainly explain your post. If no then you just may have vastly expanded what ‘unrelated’ means.

  46. rory says:

    u suck ed haha burnnnnnnn