Monday, March 03, 2014

those play-doh folks really did an awesome job with wallace & gromit

we all know how much i love lego, so it's not surprising that i wasn't all that keen on this cynical piece in the nytimes (while otherwise generally being a fan of both the nytimes and of cynicism). i also read this one, which chose to be charmed by the branding of the movie, and is thus a little more positive. it's actually interesting that it's taken nearly a month for some negativity about this film to surface.

but both of these pieces and many of the others, in my view, give a bit too much credit to lego for a movie made by warner brothers and cleverly written and directed by phil lord and christopher miller. yes, there was an executive producer from the lego company and lego did, of course, protect their strong brand name and interests, but (you knew there was a but), giving them all of the credit is a little bit like attributing the cleverness of wallace & gromit only to play-doh.

like polymer clay in the aardman animations, lego bricks were a medium in the film - a vehicle on which to attach both visually and to tell a story. a human, funny, positive, charming, but also slightly politically subversive and even ironic (in its anti-capitalist message) story. it is postmodernism at its best, engaging all of the references of pop culture and childhood memories (from benny the spaceman to batman), rolling them into a rolicking good time of a movie that's self-referential, visually enchanting and has a positive message of believing in your own talents. it's a feel good movie. lego is lucky is worked so well, and some credit for that goes to the strength and positivity of their brand, but they don't deserve all of the credit. warner brothers played a significant part.

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