Pablo Picasso's claim, "Every child is an artist", is proven true whenever children are presented with a box-full of the interlocking plastic bricks, figurines, and construction toys known as Lego.
Pablo Picasso's claim, "Every child is an artist", is proven true whenever children are presented with a box-full of the interlocking plastic bricks, figurines, and construction toys known as Lego. And with the recent success of the The Lego Movie, Lego has never been more popular.
The Lego Movie hit the big screen on February 7, 2014, featuring the voice talents of such stars as Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, and Liam Neeson. Upon its release, it became the second-highest February weekend debut in history, behind only The Passion of the Christ. It maintained that top spot at the box office throughout the rest of the month.
Along with it financial success, The Lego Movie was welcomed with critical acclaim. It garnered near-universal positive reviews and was praised for its animation and casting. The sentimental allure of Lego across generations and the movie's merchandising opportunities merely added to the buzz.
So is The Lego Movie worthy of viewing by adults and children alike? Are there admirable and even Scriptural truths that are presented through the storyline? The answer is, "Yes". Consider these nine laudable themes contained within The Lego Movie that complement a Christian worldview.
Warning: This article contains spoilers.
1. Everyone is made special.
The movie's main protagonist is an ordinary Lego construction worker named Emmet. When he is first introduced at the beginning of the movie, he is presented as a kind yet simple man with nothing special or distinctive about him. Indeed, most of the other characters--even his coworkers--hardly even notice he exists.
The story begins moving, however, when Wyldstyle (the main heroine) and Vitruvius (an old wizard) conclude that Emmet is actually "The Special", a hero of prophecy who would save the world by conquering the evil Lord Business. Yet Emmet appears to possess no abilities nor does he perform any spectacular deeds to validate that belief. Belief in him wavers.
As the plot develops, however, Emmet is revealed to be a man of great compassion and courage. Following an encounter with his creator, Emmet even comes to realize that he is gifted. Though Emmet is not initially recognized by most as being special, he eventually shows just how special he is.
The Bible teaches that every person, by virtue of being made in the image of God, possesses an intrinsic value. Everyone is special, even if that specialness is not widely appreciated. Each individual has been stamped with the image of God. As recorded in the book of Genesis, "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground'" Genesis 1:26, NIV).
Humanity is special by virtue of being made in the image of God. Israel's King David recognized this truth and wrote about it in Psalm 139. Describing the care and attention invested by God in creating him, David wrote, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV).
The Bible consistently reinforces the inherent worth of individuals. Even when the specialness of a person is not evident, it is still a reality. Sometimes it merely needs to be nurtured and developed. Those who take the time to look can discover something special in every person because of the image of God.
2. There is a Creator.
The Lego characters in the movie repeatedly refer to "The Man Upstairs". Most do not understand much about The Man Upstairs, but they generally speak of him with reverence and awe. A few characters, however, express personal doubts about The Man Upstairs. Despite these doubts, The Man Upstairs is credited with the creation of the Lego world.
In popular culture, the phrase "the man upstairs" is often used as a reference to God. As with The Man Upstairs in The Lego Movie, God is to be revered and held in awe. Though not everyone accepts or believes in Him, He is the Creator of all that exists. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1, NIV). "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
Granted, there are major differences between the movie's portrayal of The Man Upstairs and the Bible's portrayal of the God. Both, however, point to the one who is ultimately in charge. After all--and without revealing the climax--Emmet would have failed in his quest had it not been for The Man Upstairs.
3. A positive perspective is the best perspective.
The lead single from The Lego Movie is "Everything Is Awesome", a song that pervades the movie (with four versions on the soundtrack) and will stick in the head of anyone who hears it. As the title suggests, it's core message is about embracing the undeniable awesomeness of life. The song, written by Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton and performed by Tegan and Sara (and featuring The Lonely Island), is an electropop parody which is enjoyed by all the Lego characters. Even Wyldstyle, who initially claims not to like it, eventually comes around.
In the movie, an entire construction site is enraptured with the song for several hours. Likewise, a positive attitude can spread from person to person until it changes an entire community. Like the song, positivity is contagious.
Of course, the opposite is also true. Negativity has a way of spreading and demoralizing people quickly. A positive outlook lifts up, while a negative one tears down. The challenge faced in the real world is to stay positive in the midst of adverse situations. It is possible, however, by intentionally looking for the good.
Consider the Apostle Paul, who wrote four of his epistles that are included in the New Testament while he was sitting in prison--Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. In one of them, he wrote these words: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near... Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Philippians 4:4-5, 8, NIV). Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
4. Your worth is not dependent on the perceptions of others.
In the movie, Emmet is deeply hurt when he discovers that his friends and coworkers do not hold him in high regard. It is not that they dislike him; they simply do not think of him at all. Regardless of the opinions of others, though, Emmet eventually proves his value.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel was sent by God to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint a new king of Israel. When he arrived, Samuel asked to see Jesse's sons until the next king was identified. The oldest son, Eliab, had an outward impression that made Samuel think he was the one, but God told him to continue looking. Samuel proceeded to examine seven of Jesse's sons, but to no avail. Finally, he asked Jesse to call in the youngest son, David, who had been looking after sheep and goats in the fields.
Though David did not possess the strength nor the stature of his older brothers, David was identified as the next king of Israel. His worth was not based on his physical appearance nor the impressions of others; it was based on the anointing of God. As God informed Samuel during this search, "The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT).
5. Creativity is necessary to reach new heights.
As the movie begins, exercising creativity is a problem for Emmet. Having lived a rather safe life, Emmet has never attempted anything beyond what could be found in an instruction manual. Yet if he is going to save the Lego world, he will need to master creativity. Only when he begins to be truly creative will Emmet exhibit the ability to defeat the evil Lord Business and rescue everyone.
Emmet desperately wants to become a Master Builder. This desire only grows as he encounters many other heroic characters like Wyldstyle, Vitruvius, Batman, Metal Beard, Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. Unlike Emmet, Master Builders are able to create anything they needed without requiring instructions. They envision solutions to problems, trust their instincts, and proceed to create whatever is necessary to succeed. Emmet desperately wants to become creative, too, because he desires to become a Master Builder and save everyone.
In the real world, creativity is also valued and sought after. So where does this inclination to express creativity come from? From the image of God we bear. God Himself is creative, so those who bear his image become more like Him as they express creativity, too.
Creativity has always been a value within the Christian community. Whether with art, dance, music, or craftsmanship, the Bible endorses creative acts, particularly when they are performed as acts of worship. Because of this, Christians have given the world many of the greatest artistic masterpieces, scientific discoveries, and classic works of literature. Their creativity has elevated humanity and resulted in remarkable achievements.
6. Instructions are valuable, too.
Throughout most of the movie, Emmet lacks creativity. Instead, he struggles to build anything with his imagination. After all, he has always relied on the instruction manual to determine everything he does in life.
While Emmet needs to learn creativity, it should be noted that Emmet had been served well by following instructions. Instruction manuals had equipped him to build strong and stable structures. They had also enabled him to keep his life in order and had provided guidance for him when he did not know what else to do.
Following instruction manuals had provided Emmet with a foundation for life. From the knowledge and experience he gained from following instruction manuals, Emmet is eventually able to exercise creativity by building things without instructions. If not for those skills he had acquired earlier in his life, his creative expressions would have surely lacked the craftsmanship necessary to hold together and to save the world.
Like an instruction manual, the Bible provides useful guidance for believers today. The Apostle Paul wrote, "You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17, NLT).
Embracing the Bible can help believers grow in their faith, know what to do in a variety of situations, and serve others accordingly. Even when circumstances exceed those covered in the pages of Scripture, a believer who is well-versed in the Bible's teachings can apply biblical principles to his or her life and extrapolate a solution. The instructions of Scripture do not confine, they empower believers to move forward. "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path" (Psalm 119:105, NIV).
7. Teamwork is necessary to reach full potential.
The "Everything Is Awesome" single highlights the awesomeness of teamwork with the lyrics, "Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you are part of a team." Though the characters do not always work together as a team, they only achieve their objectives when then do. Conversely, things look their worst when the Master Builders seek their own personal agendas rather than a mutual goal.
In order to defeat the evil Lord Business, the Master Builders need to trust each other and work together as a team. They would be severely limited otherwise. Emmet and the rest of the Lego characters only achieve success when they team up together.
Consider professional sports leagues. With whichever league you choose--the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL--this truth remains: only teams that play as teams succeed. Championships cannot be attained when players seek only individual glory, when discord is allowed to flourish within the locker room, or when players refuse to recognize the roles they can fill to contribute to the team's success. The best teams exercise a level of humility that allows the players to serve each other.
The New Testament also emphasizes the importance of teamwork, with a unity forming among believers very early in the life of the Church. Acts 2 records the birth of the Church, and by the end of the chapter it tells us, "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had" (Acts 2:42-44, NLT). Within a short period of time, the early believers began to practice habits that would nurture unity and a sense of teamwork.
In the Apostle Paul's writing, he repeatedly describes the Church--the community of Christian believers--as the Body of Christ. "The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12, NLT). Though the body of Christ is comprised of many parts, it functions as a unified whole.
This unity is evident despite a great deal of diversity. The early Christians represented a wide variety of people, including men and women, old and young, slaves and free, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, and powerful and powerless. Yet their common faith was enough to unify them. "Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all" (Ephesians 4:3-6, NLT).
8. Self-sacrifice is the true mark of greatness.
Throughout the movie, Emmet strives to better himself. He wants to become a Master Builder, even though he appears to lack the necessary skills. When called upon, though, he tries his very best and gives of himself to help others.
Near the end of the movie, however, the stakes are raised. Emmet is forced to make a decision that could result in his ultimate destruction. Knowing full well that he might not survive, Emmet made the decision to save his friends. Emmet's willingness to sacrifice himself inspired greatness in others, too.
The New Testament describes the willingness of Jesus to make self-sacrifices, too. Though he was God, he set aside his rights and privileges as God in order to enter into his own Creation. Knowing how spiritually lost humanity was, Jesus had compassion and chose to come to the rescue. Because of his great love, he was even willing to suffer a criminal's death on the Cross. No one is greater than Jesus, yet he showed his greatness through his willingness to serve and to give his life for others.
As Jesus Himself described, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13, NIV). This was true for Him; it is true for us.
9. Redemption is available to all.
By the end of The Lego Movie, redemption emerges as a primary theme. Specifics cannot be given without revealing too much of the plot, but lives are changed and relationships are mended before the credits begin to roll.
Of course, the greatest redemption story of all tells how Jesus came to sacrifice Himself so we could be forgiven and made right with God. "For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14, NIV). The degree of darkness does not matter; what matters is a heart that is ready to receive this forgiveness. Though the image of God in humanity has been tarnished by sin, it can be restored by receiving the forgiveness Jesus offers through the grace of God.
The Lego Movie appears to be on its way to becoming a classic animated film for the ages. Though classified as a children's movie, the movie holds enough nostalgic appeal and sophisticated humor to hold the attention of adults, too. The good news is that the themes contained within the movie are wholesome and trustworthy. By including themes that complement a Christian perspective on life and faith, the movie gains even more support and promises to be a favorite for years to come.