Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE REAL AWESOMENESS OF THE LEGO MOVIE

Everything is meaningful.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE REAL AWESOMENESS OF THE LEGO MOVIE

HULK SPENDS A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT THE EFFECT OF SURFACES.

THAT MAY SOUND WEIRD, BUT IT'S KIND OF PERTINENT TO MODERN LIFE. HULK'S AN AVID FAN OF THE BOOK PRESENT SHOCK, WHICH POSTULATES, WELL, A LOT THINGS, BUT ONE OF THEM IS THAT THE FASTER WE MOVE THROUGH LIFE, THE MORE DEPENDENT WE BECOME ON SURFACES FOR OUR QUICK INTERACTIONS IN GENERAL. IT'S NOT REALLY SOMETHING WE DO WITH MALICIOUS INTENTION, MIND YOU. IT'S MORE SOMETHING PEOPLE USE AS A KIND OF SHORTHAND, GIVEN THAT WE ARE HAVING MORE AND MORE INTERACTIONS THAT ARE EACH TAKING UP LESS AND LESS TIME, ALL TO A KIND OF INSIDIOUS EFFECT. STILL, THE SILVER LINING OF THIS TREND IS THAT THE MORE YOU ARE AWARE OF HOW THESE SURFACES WORK, THE MORE YOU CAN USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. FOR PLAYING WITH SURFACES IS REALLY JUST A CHANCE TO PLAY WITH EXPECTATIONS; A CHANCE FOR YOU TO DECIDE WHAT IT IS YOU WANT TO SAY ONCE THE PERSON SITS DOWN TO ACTUALLY LOOK AT WHAT MIGHT BE BEHIND SAID SURFACE. WHICH IS ACTUALLY GREAT FOR STORYTELLING, BECAUSE WHAT IS DRAMA BUT THE VARIOUS WAYS WE PLAY WITH SOMEONE'S EXPECTATIONS? APOLOGIES FOR GETTING SELF-REFERENTIAL HERE, BUT HULK'S WHOLE FASCINATION WITH THE DYNAMIC IS SOMETHING THAT HULK SORT OF STUMBLED INTO THROUGH HULK'S ENTIRE ONLINE LIFE; ONE THAT HAS BEEN NOTHING BUT A JOURNEY OF LOVELY DISCOVERY. THIS WHOLE HULK BUSINESS HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH AND GONE THROUGH ENOUGH CYCLES THAT HULK HAS GOTTEN A SUBSTANTIAL LOOK INTO THE PATTERNS THAT EMERGE WHEN IT COMES TO HOW PEOPLE PROCESS "A THING" THAT IS TRYING EXPRESS ITSELF THROUGH SEVERAL DIFFERENT LAYERS. AS SUCH, HULK'S HONESTLY GOTTEN A REAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE WAY THAT EXPECTATIONS AND SURFACES (AND THE EVENTUAL FLIPPING OF THEM) COMPLETELY AFFECT ONE'S TONE AND MESSAGE... HINT: IT'S WAY MORE THAN YOU THINK.

THE REASON HULK BRINGS THIS UP IS BECAUSE OF PHIL LORD & CHRIS MILLER'S OEUVRE.

THE TWO OF THEM HAVE NOT ONLY RISEN TO BECOME SOME OF HULK'S FAVORITE DIRECTORS, THEY HAVE PROVEN THEMSELVES TO BE MASTERS OF DEALING WITH SURFACE AND EXPECTATION (TO THE POINT THAT THEIR CAREERS HAVE KIND OF BEEN DEFINED BY IT). LET'S GO THROUGH EM ALL. A CANADIAN ANIMATED SHOW ABOUT CLONED HISTORICAL FIGURES ALL GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL TOGETHER? WELL, NOT ONLY IS CLONE HIGH NOT AWFUL, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST HEARTFELT AND EARNEST TREATMENTS OF HIGH SCHOOL PROBLEMS AND RELATIONSHIPS THAT'S EVER BEEN SEEN ON TV (SERIOUSLY. IT'S GAG-HEAVY, BUT THEMATICALLY SPEAKING IT'S IN THE FREAKS & GEEKS BALLPARK). OKAY, BUT WHAT ABOUT AN ANIMATED MOVIE BASED ON A SHORT CHILDREN'S BOOK ABOUT RAINING FOOD? WELL, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS IS ACTUALLY A HILARIOUS AND WEIRDLY FUNCTIONAL TREATMENT OF THE CLASSIC ICARUS MYTH. OKAY, BUT WHAT ABOUT A REMAKE / RECYCLING OF ANOTHER DUMB 80'S TV SHOW? WELL, 21 JUMP STREET WAS PROBABLY 2012'S FUNNIEST COMEDY AND A HUMANE SKEWERING OF CLASSIC HIGH SCHOOL / ACTION MOVIE TROPES. OKAY, FINE! BUT WHAT ABOUT A DAMN MOVIE-LENGTH COMMERCIAL FOR A POPULAR TOY PRODUCT? THAT HAS TO BE BAD, RIGHT!??!

WELL, THE LEGO MOVIE IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE BEST ANALYSISISESSES OF CREATIVITY AND STORYTELLING HULK'S EVER SEEN... AND MIGHT BE ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE MOVIES. PERIOD.

SO... YEAH.... THAT'S HIGH PRAISE. SO LET'S GET INTO THIS.

WHAT'S KIND OF GREAT ABOUT THE LEGO MOVIE IS THAT LORD AND MILLER ACTUALLY OUTLINE THEIR ENTIRE MODUS OPERANDI RIGHT THERE IN THE MOVIE ITSELF (SPOILERS AND CRAP FROM HERE ON IN). IT STARTS WITH METALBEARD'S SPEECH ON THE PROBLEMS OF "STICKING OUT," BUT THEN THE SUBTERFUGE IS MADE EXPLICIT DURING THE PLANNING OF THE FINAL "ASSAULT" ON LORD BUSINESS'S OFFICE. SAID PLAN = DISGUISE YOUR THING SO IT SEEMS LIKE A THING THEY'LL ACCEPT (COMPLETE WITH UNIKITTY'S PLACATING NONSENSE BUSINESS PLANS TO THE BOARD), THEN WORK WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THOSE ACCEPTED WAYS IN ORDER TO DO WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO DO. IT'S A LITERAL HEIST, BUT IT'S A METAPHOR FOR A CREATIVE ONE TOO. AND THUS LORD AND MILLER PULL IT OFF HERE JUST AS THEY ALWAYS HAVE, BY GROUNDING ALL THE HIGH-CONCEPT RIGAMAROLE IN SOMETHING TANGIBLE, SUBVERSIVE, HUMAN AND REAL.

ADMITTEDLY, IT SURE HELPS IN THE SUCCESS WHEN ALL THE TANGIBLE, SUBVERSIVE, HUMAN AND REAL THINGS THAT THE LEGO MOVIE IS SAYING ARE NOT ONLY SUPER FUNNY, BUT THE EXACT THINGS HULK HAS BEEN YAMMERING ON ABOUT FOR YEARS.

TO WIT:

1. THE HERO JOURNEY - THE FILM IS COMPLETELY UNAFRAID TO SCATHE THE HERO'S JOURNEY WHILE STILL EMBODYING MUCH OF WHAT MADE IT WONDERFUL IN THE FIRST PLACE. SOME OF YOU HAVE EVEN NOTED THAT IT SO WEIRDLY MIRRORS MUCH OF HULK'S EXACT TAKE ON IT IN THE SCREENWRITING BOOK, BUT IT SAYS EVERYTHING SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFULLY THAN THAT. IT ESCHEWS EVERYTHING GROSS AND ICKY ABOUT DESTINY AND PEOPLE THINKING THEY ARE BORN TO BE INDIVIDUALIST RANDIAN HEROES AND INSTEAD GROUNDS EVERYTHING IN BASIC HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, WANT AND NEED. HEROES AREN'T BORN DEMIGODS. THEY AREN'T PICKED. IT'S A POSSIBILITY WITHIN EVERYONE AND WE ONLY GET THERE BY BELIEVING IN OURSELVES AND FINDING THE KINDS OF PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN US. HEROISM ISN'T A BIRTHRIGHT THAT WE FUTZ AROUND. IT'S A CHOICE. AND IT'S REALIZED THROUGH BOTH WILL AND GENUINE EMPATHY.

2. THE HERO JOURNEY IN MODERN SOCIETY - IT WOULD BE SIMPLE ENOUGH TO HAVE THAT FIRST PART STAND ON ITS OWN, BUT THE FILM DOUBLES-DOWN ON THAT MESSAGE BY EXPLORING HOW THE HERO JOURNEY ENGAGES THE WHOLE TEENAGE INCLINATION TO BE SPECIAL / COOL / INDIVIDUALISTIC, BEST EXEMPLIFIED THROUGH THE CHARACTER OF WILDSTYLE (ARE YOU A DJ?). SHE'S ONE PART SEND-UP OF THE MANIC-PIXIE DREAM GIRL, ONE PART SEND-UP OF THE BADASS FEMALE HEROINE (AND THE NONSENSE THINKING THAT BADASSERY IS ALL THEY HAVE TO OFFER) AND YET ALSO ONE PART YOUR STANDARD ADOLESCENT SOUL. WHICH IS GREAT BECAUSE THE WAY MOST YOUNG PEOPLE INTERPRET HEROIC / INDIVIDUALISTIC THINKING ILLUSTRATED ABOVE IS BY CHASING DIFFERENT IDENTITIES (WHICH THEY MOST DEFINITELY ALLUDE TO MANY TIMES). AND IT'S NOT JUST WILDSTYLE; ALL THE INDIVIDUAL HEROES ARE CHASING THEIR INDIVIDUALITY TO THE POINT THAT IT'S ACTUALLY THE VERY THING THAT IS DISCONNECTING THEM FROM OTHER PEOPLE (AS THEY ARE ALL ON THEIR OWN CLOUD, SEPARATE FROM SOCIETY). MEANWHILE, YOU'LL NOTICE THAT EMMET'S PROBLEM IS HE'S GOING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION AND CHASING SAMENESS AND OBLIGING PEOPLE ALSO TO THE POINT OF DISCONNECT. WHEN YOU GO TOO FAR TOWARD EITHER SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM, YOU ACTUALLY ALIENATE THE VERY HUMANE THING YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH. IT'S EASY TO MISS, BUT THE FILM IS MAKING AN INCREDIBLE COMPLEX COMMENT ABOUT THE CRUX OF SOCIALIZATION.

3. RELIGION - HULK'S RATHER TEPID ABOUT WADING INTO THIS SUBJECT (AND / OR SPEAKING FOR THE FILMMAKERS ON ANYTHING SO PERSONAL TO PEOPLE), BUT HULK FEELS LIKE THE FILM'S EVISCERATION OF THE HERO / DESTINY STUFF IS ALSO A PURPOSEFUL, HUMANE LOOK AT MAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH RELIGION. ON ONE LEVEL, THERE CAN BE NO DOUBTING THE INVENTION VITRUVIUS' STATEMENT "I MADE IT UP" AS IT RELATES TO DESTINY BEING A MERE HUMAN CONSTRUCT THAT GETS PEOPLE TO BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES, BUT IT SEEMS RATHER CODED IN THAT WAY TOO OBVIOUS WAY. VITRUVIUS (AKA "THE ARCHITECT" OF MYTH, TO KIND OF GO ALL MATRIXY ON YA) IS SAYING THAT THE STORY IS MADE UP. AND EVEN IF THEY LIVE IN A WORLD WITH HIGHER BEINGS, THE STORIES AND INTERPRETATIONS ARE JUST THAT. STORIES CRAFTED BY MEN TO GIVE PURPOSE (EVEN HIS GHOST RESURRECTION LATER HAS AN OBLIGATORY, SATIRICAL CONNOTATION). AND HULK WOULD LIKE TO ARGUE THAT THAT'S OKAY, OR IN THE VERY LEAST BRAVE FOR A STUDIO MOVIE TO MAKE EXPLICIT (MOST STUDIO MOVIES AVOID IT ALL TOGETHER). AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU AGREE / DON'T LIKE IT, JUST KNOW THAT HULK STRONGLY IDENTIFIED WITH THE IDEA AND FOUND IT STILL UPHOLDS THE BEAUTIFUL, ROUSING NATURE OF OUR COMMONALITIES.

4. BATMAN - THIS IS OBVIOUSLY A SMALLER CONCERN, BUT SINCE THIS IS THE INTERNET IT COULD BE MORE SCANDALOUS THAN THE RELIGION PART. HULK WENT THERE WITH OUR WEIRD ADORATION OF BATMAN BEFORE, BUT THE FILM IS NOT ONLY UNAFRAID TO MAKE BATMAN A SILLY FIGURE, BUT IT'S ALSO UNAFRAID TO CHARACTERIZE HIM FOR EXACTLY WHAT HE IS: A MOODY, POSTURING TEENAGER WHO DESPERATELY THINKS HE'S COOL. IT'S ENJOYABLE AND LOVING IN ITS VERY NATURE (AND ALSO WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF A FUN, GAG-HEAVY MOVIE), WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY SOME DIEHARDS AREN'T GOING NUTS OVER THIS EVISCERATION OF OUR MODERN TAKE AND INFATUATION WITH THE CHARACTER.... THE SONG, DEAR LORDY THE SONG.

5. STORYTELLING - THIS ONE IS THE SORT OF THING THAT MAKES HULK WISH HULK SAW THE FILM BEFORE WRITING THE BOOK BECAUSE THIS FILM PUTS IT SO CLEARLY: IT'S NOT ABOUT INSTRUCTIONS. IT'S ABOUT KNOWING WHAT ALL THE PIECES ARE, WHAT THEY DO AND FIGURING OUT HOW THEY CAN ALL FIT TOGETHER TO MAKE THE THING YOU WANT TO MAKE. IT RENDERS THE ENTIRE THING SO CLEAR: 3 ACT STRUCTURE? THE HEROES JOURNEY? RISING CONFLICT? THESE ARE JUST THE INSTRUCTIONS, AND IT'S THE RIGIDITY OF THESE RULES THAT HANG OVER EVERYTHING. WHICH ISN'T TO ARGUE THAT IT'S A FREE-FOR-ALL, EITHER. BEING A MASTER BUILDER IS ABOUT KNOWING THE PARTS AND BEING ABLE TO ENGINEER THEM TOGETHER. BEING A STORYTELLER IS ABOUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOUR CHOICES DO AND WHAT KINDS OF EFFECT THEY WILL HAVE ON AUDIENCE. BETTER YET, IT ALL TIES BACK INTO POINT #2 AND THE WAY BUILDING IS REALLY A COMMUNITY EXERCISE. NOTE THE FILM'S GREAT ANALOGY FOR THIS WHEN THEY TRY TO BUILD A SUBMARINE, NOT AS A TEAM BUT WITH ALL THEIR INDIVIDUAL FLAIR. SURE, THE END RESULT LOOKS LIKE A LOVABLY HILARIOUS MISH-MASH, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK AND THEY ALMOST DIE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN. FROM HERE THEY HIDE IN THE "DUMB IDEA" AND THEN COME UP WITH THEIR STEALTH PLAN TO INVADE LORD BUSINESS' OFFICE. AGAIN, THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE SAYING HERE AND IT'S JUST CONFIRMING HOW THIS IS ALL METAPHOR FOR HOW THEY APPROACH THEIR CREATIVE WORK.

6. THE BIG METAPHOR TO END ALL METAPHORS - SO, THAT STORY METAPHOR WOULD BE NICE BY ITSELF, BUT IT ACTUALLY FITS INTO AN EMOTIONAL THING THAT'S MUCH LARGER. LIKE THAT WHOLE SCENE WITH THE REAL LIFE FATHER / SON STUFF WAS REALLY EFFECTIVE, HUH? HULK'S PRETTY SURE MOST OF THE AUDIENCE WAS CRYING. AT LEAST HULK TOTALLY DID.

THE QUESTION IS... WHY?

WAS IT BECAUSE OUR PARENTS WOULDN'T LET US PLAY WITH THEIR LEGOS? SURELY NOT. WAS IT BECAUSE IT WAS JUST A GOOD MUSIC CUE? NOPE. WAS IT THE GREAT PERFORMANCES? MAYBE, BUT NOT REALLY. OOOH, WAS IT BECAUSE IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS SUPER EARNED IN A STORY WAY? KIND OF, BUT IT'S NOT EVEN THAT.

THE REAL REASON IS THAT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THAT MOMENT WAS A PERFECT METAPHOR FOR SO MANY CRITICAL THINGS IN LIFE THAT WE ALREADY RELATE TO.

LET'S PUT IT LIKE THIS: IT IS NO ACCIDENT THAT LORD BUSINESS IS ALSO "PRESIDENT BUSINESS" AND HE IS THE LITERAL HEAD OF POLITICS / BUSINESS / TV / MUSIC / POP CULTURE / EVERYTHING IN THAT UNIVERSE. THE FILM IS VERY CLEAR ABOUT ALL THESE CONNECTIONS. HECK, THE FILM EVEN GOES SO FAR AS TO MAKE HIS REAL-LIFE CHARACTER A "GOD" IN REAL-LIFE CONTEXT WITHIN THE MOVIE. AND INSTEAD OF DIGGING SUPER INTO EACH OF THOSE ISSUES, THEY TAKE ALL THAT AND THEY ROOT RIGHT TO THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF ALL OF THEM IN THAT SAME FATHER / SON RELATIONSHIP.

THIS IS IMPORTANT.

BECAUSE AS MUCH AS WE CAN TAKE ALL OF THOSE ISSUES AND START ARGUING ABOUT THE NATURE OF BUREAUCRACY, OR THE NUANCE OF EACH OF THOSE PARTICULAR ARENAS, THERE IS STILL JUST ONE SIMPLE DYNAMIC AT THE ROOT OF ALL OF IT: FATHERS AND SONS.

FOR WHAT ARE LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS, BOSSES AND WORKERS, STUDIO HEADS AND ARTISTS, PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS, HEROES AND THOSE SAVED, BUT ENDLESS FORMS AND VARIATIONS OF THE PARENT / CHILD DYNAMIC. AND THE THING ABOUT THESE PARENTS, WHETHER THEY ARE PRESIDENTS OR CEOS OR WHOEVER, IS THAT THEY ALL RISE TO A POSITION OF POWER AND THEN, WELL, THEY ULTIMATELY DISAPPOINT US. AND IT'S NOT NECESSARILY BECAUSE THEY ARE POWER-MAD CHARLATANS OR INHERENTLY BAD PEOPLE. IT'S BECAUSE THEY FALL FOR THE BASIC HUMAN TRICK OF BELIEVING THEIR ADULT THING IS ABOUT THE ACHIEVING IN THE THING ITSELF (WINNING, SELLING, COLLECTING, ETC.) AND NOT THE POSITIVE EFFECT THAT THE THING GIVES US.

THIS IS PROBABLY REALLY CLEAR IN THE FILM'S "NOT LETTING HIS KID PLAY WITH LEGOS" ANALOGY, BUT THINK ABOUT IT IN GRANDER TERMS. THINK ABOUT THE WAY SOCIETY OPERATES. THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT ADULTS BUILD A WORLD WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHY THEY'RE PLAYING THE GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUSINESS. POLITICS. THESE ARE DESPERATELY IMPORTANT THINGS THAT NEED TO FUNCTION AND BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN ORDER FOR SOCIETY TO FUNCTION, BUT EVERY DAMN DAY WE FORGET THAT THE REASON WE DO THEM IS BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY CRAVE THE SIMPLEST THINGS IN LIFE: FUN. PEACE OF MIND. LOVE. TOGETHERNESS. DESPITE HOW THOSE WORDS SOUND, HULK SWEARS TO YOU THAT THESE ARE NOT FLOWERY IDEAS. THESE THINGS ARE THE REAL CURRENCY OF LIFE. AND THEY ARE PART OF ALL THE THINGS ADULTS CLAIM THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE BUILD ADULT SYSTEMS AND VALUES THAT SO READILY EXCLUDE IT. THAT FEED INTO OUR DESIRE TO OVERWORK. THAT GET US TO MISS ALL THAT OTHER GOOD STUFF IN OUR LIVES. THAT MINE IT FOR MAXIMUM BUSINESS AND FEED INTO THE SAME SYSTEM THAT DOESN'T ACTUALLY WANT YOU TO HAVE HAPPINESS, BUT MERELY CONTINUED CONSUMPTION. IT IS ESSENTIALLY "OBJECTIFYING" ALL OUR SIMPLE THINGS. AGAIN, THIS ISN'T TO GET ALL POLITICAL ON YOUR ASS, BUT THE BUSINESS FOR BUSINESS' SAKE MORAL ARGUMENT MIGHT BE THE MOST FOREHEAD-SLAPPING BIT OF INANITY EVER. NOT BECAUSE IT DOESN'T WORK, BUT BECAUSE IT DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE ROOT OF HAPPINESS LIES IN EMOTIONAL SANCTIFICATION, NOT CHASING AN ENDLESS HIGH AND CONSTANTLY EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RESULT. SORRY, BUT IT'S ALL RIGHT THERE PLAIN AS DAY.

MEANING DAY AFTER DAY, ADULTHOOD FAILS US.

AND REALLY, THEY ARE FAILING THEMSELVES.

AND ALL THIS PARENT / KID METAPHOR MUMBO-JUMBO IS THE REASON THE CLIMAX TO THE LEGO MOVIE WORKS. IT IS THE SIMPLE ACT OF TELLING ADULTHOOD THAT THEY ARE WASTING IT. THAT THEY NEED TO EMBRACE THE REAL PURPOSE UNDER EVERYTHING. SURE, THEY HAVE ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY AND THAT IS A HEAVY LOAD TO BEAR, BUT THEY ALSO HAVE ALL THE POWER. AS THE MOVIE ARGUES, THEY ARE THE MOST SPECIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. THEY HAVE ALL THE RESOURCES. ALL THE HEART. AND SO EVERY ADULT HAS THE UTTER CAPACITY TO BE HEROES, NOT JUST TO THEIR CHILDREN, BUT TO THE SCORES OF PEOPLE THEY CAN POTENTIALLY LEAD EVERY DAY. AND YET ALL OUR POLITICIANS, CEOS AND MOVIE STUDIO HEADS JUST NEED TO REMEMBER THAT FOR ONE SECOND, JUST ONE SECOND THEIR REAL JOB IS NOT TO PROPAGATE A SYSTEM THAT RUNS ON THIS, BUT TO SUPPLY THE GENUINE ARTIFACTS OF EMOTIONAL HAPPINESS. OR, IN THE VERY LEAST, TO COME DOWN OFF THE AUSPICES OF BEING "LORD BUSINESS" AND NOT BE SO CUTTHROAT OR ABSOLUTE ABOUT ALL OF IT. IN OTHER WORDS, TO NOT BE INHUMAN ABOUT IT. TO TRY AND INSTEAD SUPPLY THE VERY THING THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO. AND WHAT'S BEAUTIFUL ABOUT THAT IS THE CLIMAX OF THIS FILM IS ACTUALLY CONFIRMING THE REAL INTENDED FINAL PURPOSE OF THE HERO JOURNEY. NO, IT'S NOT REALIZING YOUR DESTINY AND SLICING A BAD GUY IN HALF (THAT'S ACTUALLY THE BUSINESS ANSWER). IT'S REALIZING YOUR DESTINY OF BELIEVING IN HUMANITY AND PASSING THAT ON TO THE PERSON YOU ONLY THINK IS THE "BAD GUY" IN YOUR OWN LIFE.

THE LEGO MOVIE, FOR ALL ITS JOKING WAYS AND SURFACE ASSUMPTIONS, IS REALLY JUST A DESPERATE PLEA FOR HUMANISM AT THE HEART OF AN AGE-OLD DYNAMIC.

AND IT IS A PLEA DIRECTLY TO US.

IT IS A PLEA THAT MAKES US CRY BECAUSE WE WANT TO TELL OUR FATHERS, PROVERBIAL OR OTHERWISE, THAT THEY ARE FAILING US, BUT WE ALWAYS HOPE FOR THEM TO BE BETTER. TO BE WITH US. AND WE ALSO CRY BECAUSE WE SEE THAT SAME REALITY WITHIN US, AND HERE IT IS: SOMEONE TELLING US WE CAN REALLY BE SPECIAL, EVEN IF WE JUST FORGOT. IN BOTH CASES, WE JUST NEED TO REMEMBER THE PURPOSE OF DOING ALL THIS. BECAUSE AS MUCH AS WE MAKE LIFE ABOUT OTHER STUFF, IT'S REALLY ABOUT ENJOYING THE TOYS.

YOU JUST HAVE TO WRAP YOUR MIND AROUND THE FACT THAT EVERYTHING IS ACTUALLY A TOY. MOVIES. TELEVISION. TWITTER. POP CULTURE. HECK, EVEN YOUR JOB OR YOUR COMMUTE. THESE ARE REALLY JUST TOYS, FOLKS. THEY ARE THINGS WE CAN TURN INTO THINGS THAT POTENTIALLY DELIGHT US AND OTHERS. ADMITTEDLY, GETTING TO MAKE A MOVIE IS LIKE BEING HANDED THE BIGGEST TOY IN THE UNIVERSE, BUT ON THE FLIP-SIDE HULK'S LITERALLY SHOVELED SHIT FOR A LIVING AND HULK SWEARS THERE ARE EVEN WAYS TO TRANSFORM THAT TOO. THERE'S ALWAYS A WAY BECAUSE HUMANISM IS THE ROOT OF ALL THINGS. AND THERE IS A WAY TO FIND MEANING, COMARADERIE, AND PURPOSE TO ALL OF IT, EVEN SHOVELING THE SHIT... BECAUSE THAT IS US AT OUR BEST POSSIBLE SELVES.

AND YES, WE HAVE TO BE AT OUR BEST POSSIBLE SELVES TO BE HEROES, MUNDANE OR OTHERWISE. EVEN WITH SOMETHING AS TRIVIAL AS MAKING A DUMB MOVIE THAT IS SUPPOSEDLY "JUST" A COMMERCIAL FOR SOME DAMN TOY PRODUCTS. BUT LUCKILY, SURFACES CAN BE DECEIVING. REAL ARTISTS KNOW HOW TO TAKE THAT INHERENT DIFFICULTY AND SHAPE IT INTO THE PERSONAL AND NECESSARY. THIS IS ONLY SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME. THE ARTS HAVE ALWAYS NEEDED PATRONAGE, WHETHER IT WAS THE CHURCH, THE MILITARY, YOU NAME IT. THE AGE OF PRODUCT PLACEMENT IS NOTHING NEW. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT IF THERE WASN'T SOME ACTUAL MERIT TO THAT IN THE PRODUCT ITSELF? HULK DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT LIL HULK BUILT ENTIRE UNIVERSES WITH LEGOS. HULK WOULD TAKE OVER ENTIRE ROOMS AND EVENTUALLY INCORPORATE NEIGHBORS TO BRING THEIR LEGOS OVER TOO. HECK, EVEN ALL OF HULK'S FIRST "MOVIES" TOOK PLACE INSIDE LEGO WORLDS (HULK EVEN HAD A LITTLE 1980S SPACEMAN WITH THE CRACKED HELMET TOO). THESE THINGS ARE THE KIND OF DETAILS THAT HELP ELICIT A SMILE FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT THEY ARE NOT WHAT MAKES THE MOVIE.

WHAT MAKES THE MOVIE IS HONESTY OF SUBJECT. BECAUSE LEGOS ARE ABOUT THE IMPETUS FOR CREATION WITHIN CONSTRUCTS. THE LEGO MOVIE IS MAYBE JUST AN EARNEST ATTEMPT TO REFLECT THAT IN AS MANY WAYS AS POSSIBLE.

AND MAYBE IT'S SO MUCH MORE, FOR IT UNDERSTANDS THAT THE PURPOSE OF CREATION IS TO MAKE ART. TO GRAB HOLD OF THE ROOTS AND SHAKE US. TO NOT LET US FORGET WHY WE'RE HERE. TO TAP INTO OUR DEEPEST EMOTIONS. TO LET US SEE ALL THE LAYERS OF OUR WORLD... BUT BY ALL MEANS, KEEP CALLING THE FILM A COMMERCIAL, RIGHT?

PERHAPS HULK'S POINT HAS BEEN MADE. SO CONSIDER THIS A LOVE LETTER TO A FILM THAT TOOK EVERY SURFACE ASSUMPTION YOU EVER HAD AND TURNED IT INTO SOMETHING TRULY MEANINGFUL.

NOW IF YOU WILL EXCUSE HULK, THERE'S A DOUBLE-DECKER COUCH TO BUILD.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
t