I can’t be the only one completely surprised by the phenomenal success of “The Lego Movie.” It’s been No. 1 at the box office for two weekends in a row, maintaining its share in the second week when most movies, even most hits, lose steam. Success begets success; the curiosity got the best of me and I saw it Tuesday at Atlantic Station.
As a movie, it’s not bad. Certainly better than anyone could have expected – and much better than most animated features of late. It falls short of the grace of, say, “Toy Story,” but it’s more heartfelt and smart and entertaining than “Hotel Transylvania.”
As for the idea of a brand being turned into a feature? Well, it struck me as awfully cynical and made me think “The Lego Movie” would be a cheap, tacky stunt – not the actual, full-blooded (and pretty good) flick that it is.
Visually, it’s spectacular, maybe a game-changer, richer and poppier and more colorful than any animated feature I can recall … my head was spinning at the end credits. And the story is a serviceable if predictable mish-mash of pieces from other movies (I stopped counting after “Star Wars,” “The Matrix” and “Transformers”) and a heartwarming-enough thematic flourish at the end that adds a self-aware bit of meta-marketing but doesn’t trample on the story.
Throughout are many little bits of funny business, eye candy, wit and heart – verbal and visual – that no one could have expected out of such a huge commercial undertaking.
In short, there’s a lot of individuality and expression throughout “The Lego Movie,” and that’s the lesson for corporate storytellers and brand marketers. Even when every computer-generated frame is meticulously planned and hermetically created, you still can delight audiences with unexpected flourishes that break through the machinery and, yes, serve the brand.
Commerce and art… branding and storytelling… Nothing new, of course, from Hollywood. But “The Lego Movie” might be a touchstone, or at least a very Right Now Moment, that communicators of all kinds can learn from. It’s definitely not just one more tired example of laziness and greed disguised as something more.
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