30 Day film Challange – Day 15

Posted: June 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

Halfway home!

How fitting for the halfway post, a movie that makes me happy, because I’m definitely happy to be halfway to 30. I know it’s not hard to pick movies, but finding the time is the real pain.

But I’m not going to be mad today. Once again, I am going to a movie theater tonight to see a new movie (F9, if anyone was curious), so I was thinking of writing about that. It doesn’t even matter what the movie is, although I’m sure all the explosions and cars and John Cena’s wooden acting will bring me tons of joy. What really matters is that after almost a year and a half of not being able to go to a movie theater, or out at all for some of it, we are able to go out and enjoy movie theater popcorn, and ridiculously large sodas, and watch a movie in a large dark room with other people, who may or may not have their phone out.

That’s really the point, I suppose. As a childless adult who married someone who shares similar tastes in movies, I almost never get dragged to a movie that I don’t want to see. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it happened. So, most of the time, the movie that makes me happy is the one I am watching at that moment.

“But, Dursin, you always complain about movies. This whole blog is almost exclusively devoted to movies you don’t like.” Yeah, and it’s great. I do complain about a lot of movies, because I have high expectations for them, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy on some level while I’m seeing them. Some of my favorite movie-going experiences were going to see really dumb movies. I remember seeing Charlie Sheen’s The Arrival with some friends, laughing my ass off while it was going on, and my friend John turning to me near the climax and whispering, “I think this movie deserves a standing ovation at the end.” This is a pet peeve of mine, because it’s not a play. The actors can’t hear you clapping. John knew my feelings and realized that if it is going to be done, it should be done ironically. So, as the credits rolled and the lights came up, John and I stood and clapped, and a stranger across the theater did it too! It was truly one of the highlights of the 90’s for me.

Ok, I’m kind of stretching the premise, because obviously not every movie makes me happy. In fact, a lot of them don’t. And the real point of today’s prompt is not to try and claim that I love movies. It is to present the opposite of yesterday’s downer one, a movie that makes me depressed. So, if I have to pick one, it should be an awesome one, and in this movie, literally everything is awesome.

The LEGO Movie

Of course, I love LEGOS. They’re fun and creative and cute and all that. But how do you make a whole movie of computer-animated ones? I had no idea when I saw it what to expect, and that’s maybe the first step towards making me happy: no expectations.

But the real reason this movie makes me happy is the way it slowly reveals what is actually happening here. When the characters do things like use the “Sword of exact-0,” and you see that it is an exacto knife, or when you finally see that “The Kragle,” which is the Maguffin of the movie, is actually an old tube of Krazy Glue where some of the letters have been rubbed off, you start to think, “wait a minute, this is a kid playing.” And when it was revealed that it is a kid playing with his Dad’s immense LEGO collection, and his Dad, who is played by Will Farrell, is actually the bad guy of his adventure, because his Dad didn’t think of LEGOS as toys and didn’t want him playing, well, my brain exploded in happiness.

Here’s a big reveal that no one was curious about: I loved playing with toys. I loved going to toy stores to get new ones. I loved playing with my old ones. I loved them probably long past the age when it was socially acceptable. G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Transformers, freakin’ Battle Beasts, it didn’t matter. And I rarely played what the toys were actually for. My G.I. Joe guys were usually a kind of A-Team-like band of heroes that were on the run from the law but still doing good deeds. I don’t know why. It just seemed cooler back then. And that’s basically what the kid in the LEGO movie is doing. He’s not using any of that stuff for what it was meant for. Sure, Batman hanging out with Metal Beard, the cyborg pirate makes no sense, but it’s pretty cool when you’re ten. There was a time in my life when I looked back and thought I was kind of a weird kid for not playing, y’know, G.I. Joe with my G.I. Joe toys. LEGO Movie kind of retroactively made me realize that other kinds were probably doing it, too, and even if I was a weird kid, who cares?

The LEGO Movie makes me happy because it made me remember those days when I would come home from school, go down into our basement, dump out my toy box, and just play with whatever came out. Or it made me remember waking up really early on a Saturday morning when no one else in my house could even fathom about being awake and playing with action figures while watching Saturday morning cartoons. My family took one trip to Disney when I was in kindergarten, and a pretty low-key vacation every summer to Cape Cod to sit on the beach, but I didn’t need anything else. I had a few toys and a lot of imagination. Oh, and you know I would bring my toys to the beach every year.

So, it’s not a movie I saw as a kid that makes me happy now because of the nostalgia factor (See my Transformers: The Movie post from a few days ago for that). This is a movie that I saw as an adult that somehow makes me feel the same thing, which makes it even cooler because, yes, they still make movies like that. When I asked my wife what movie she thought I should pick for today’s post, she suggested a movie I would watch when I feel grumpy and it would make me happy. I don’t know if The LEGO Movie applies there. I think it’s more that it makes me happy knowing that it exists.  

Thanks, LEGO Movie, ode to my childhood, and a lot of kids’ childhoods, for always being there. 

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