After the relative dry spell of quality movies in January, I've got a couple of must-see releases for you to kick off February. The much-anticipated Lego Movie arrives in theaters this weekend, while the Christian musical-drama Grace Unplugged is now available for download (the Bluray and DVD hit shelves Tuesday February 11th). I'll tell you straight-up that both are terrific, but to find out why and to plan your after-movie scriptural discussions with family and friends, read on!
THE LEGO MOVIE REVIEW (GRADE: A)
“Everything is awesome!” a bunch of figurines cheerfully sing, and, in the context of this inventive and witty animated treat, they're absolutely right. A cynic may say that this is just a feature-length commercial for Lego toys, but this clever parody of “hero's journey” and “Chosen One” stories keeps the jokes coming so fast that even the most jaded viewer may not be immune to its charms.
The story is simple: an exceptionally ordinary (and not-too-bright) Lego figurine is mistaken for the “Master
Builder” and recruited on a quest to save the Lego Galaxy from the evil Lord Business. From this foundation launches a parade of inspired silliness and cameos from dozens of superheros, fantasy/sci-fi legends, and historical figures. The mix of computer and stop-motion animation is seamless and wonderful to behold, while the vocal talents of Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, and many more are put to excellent use. As with the best of Pixar, adults will be as entertained as their children.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Lego Movie is rated PG. There is some slapstick violence and two very, very mild innuendos (a figurine sits on a photocopier but has Lego holes instead of buttocks; a game show called “Where Are My Pants? features a Lego figurine sans pants but with no anatomical detail). There are a few misuses of the Lord's name (“oh my G*d”), which is uncommon for an animated film.
What happens next you can probably guess. As a modern parable about the temptation of fame, the tension between parents and children, and the healing power of faith, Grace Unplugged takes enough cues from the biblical tale of the prodigal son that its plot is utterly predictable. While that sounds like a swipe, I don’t mean it that way. The story is timeless and influential for a reason. Its predictability, however, lays the burden on the filmmakers and actors to do it justice. They have to make an old tale new so the audience feels like they’re experiencing it for the first time. They succeed spectacularly.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Jesus Christ choose to do His Father’s will even though he was tempted to take another path; similarly, we should choose to let our will be swallowed up in God’s (Luke 22:41-42). While children need to honor their parents (Exodus 20:12) parents must give their children room to make their own choices and choose their own path. Music is one of the greatest ways to praise the Lord and feel His presence (D&C 25:12).