Episode 555: Deus Ex Washing Machina

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather disassemble and re-assemble the tiny plastic bricks of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, mostly highlighting the mismatch between text and meta-text, the highly inappropriate parental discipline on display, and the frankly bizarre relationship between siblings.

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Further REading

7 Comments on “Episode 555: Deus Ex Washing Machina”

  1. l33tminion #

    Surprised the Overthinkers found the idea of the Legos being put “in storage” so extreme. The way I read the situation was: Five years ago, the Legos were in the basement and neatly organized. Since the kids started being allowed to play with the dad’s giant Lego sets, they’ve spread out over the basement and some of the rest of the house. The kids fight over which pieces are theirs (more than five years ago, when the little sister was mostly content to build with the Duplo bricks). After another fight, the mom makes good on her threat to make them put the Legos “in storage”, but that’s just in big bins in the same basement where those toys have mostly lived. It seems apocalyptic to the kids, but in reality it’s just a time out and the toys won’t stay in those bins for long.

    Re Duplo being compatible with Lego: It is, and Lego marketing for Duplo makes a big deal of emphasizing “Duplo is Lego”.

    Re destruction being a part of building: Emmett could take stuff apart to build other stuff before becoming a “master destructor”, but needless to say “smashing with megaton punch” is not the method of unbuilding favored by parents / the Lego corporation.

    Re a second reading of whether Queen Whatevra is evil: I think the deeper reading is on the other side and the line about being a terrible communicator has more irony. That is, Whatevra is a well-intentioned villain, and “oh she wasn’t evil all along just as she said” is a shallow reading, the deeper one is that “evil” (at least aggressive) actions can be motivated by good intentions. (Though obviously the Lego-world stakes are magnified on the low-grade “evil” of taking your sibling’s toys.)

    Surprised there wasn’t more commentary on how the brother-sister relationship in this movie reflects the father-son relationship in the first movie. “Stop messing with my stuff!”

    The central dramatic irony (for adults in the audience), I think, is that the siblings have much richer opportunities to play together than they did five years ago. Even though their interests have become more distinct, their communication capabilities have improved over time. But the brother wants to think of himself as above playing with his little sister now, and his concept of what playing Legos with his sister is like is a bit stuck in the past (especially as she’s moved some of that into her room and stopped playing together in the basement). That’s reflected in the fact that the relationship between the Bricksburgians and the Duplo aliens hasn’t really changed.

    Maybe the movie can be read as less a “nurturing femininity good, destructive masculinity bad” apology for half of Lego’s gender-segmented marketing and more apologia for all of it: Sure, there are Lego sets that cater to all sorts of interests, but you could find interesting ways to compromise and play together based on those disparate interests if you weren’t so immature about it!


  2. Three Act Destructure #

    Among the esteemed canon of toys-with-agency stories, would you describe the Lego movies as being more similar to the Smash Bros series or the Puppetmaster series?


    • clayschuldt #

      I would compare it to the Toy Story series or that one episode of the Twilight Zone where the five toys are in a donation barrel and can’t get out.


      • Three Act Destructure #

        Now that you’ve you mentioned Twilight Zone and toys, didn’t The Indian In The Cupboard movie really deserve some Rod Serling monologue bookends?


  3. Andy B #

    “LEGO Turtles all the way down”

    Well actually, since the first LEGO Movie the TMNT license switched from LEGO to Mega Construx (nee, Mega Bloks). So if it’s Turtles all the way down, the purity of the LEGO is in question. ;-)


  4. clayschuldt #

    Lego Movie 2 made me think about the Toy Story series.
    In the Toy Story films the toys are alive and have the ability and can show this to humans, but only choose to do this with Sid in the first film. This raises the question, why does Buzz Lightyear, who doesn’t know he is a toy in the first film remain still when Andy plays with him?
    My in-world theory was Buzz assumed it was a custom to not move around the Chief, or he did say things and Andy assumed these were pre-program messages.
    But it also raises the question, why is Buzz the only one with this disorder where he does not realize he is a toy? There is an in-film explanation. This denial about being a toy seems to effect new toys. The aliens in the crane machine didn’t seem to know either.
    The idea seems to be the toys need an owner to give them personality or identity, kind of like that Twilight Zone episode with the toys trapped in a donation barrel.
    If Toy Story logic is applied to the Lego movies, the Lego figures might not be acting entirely at behest of a child and the Lego world is real, but is created as a reflection of the children.


  5. John C Member #

    Weirdly, that age gap playing together is pretty close to my childhood, though that was probably more a defense against more family dysfunction than a mainstream kids’ movie would be willing to portray.

    Unrelated, the discussion of the song possibly changing meanings on multiple viewings reminds me that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Rachel Bloom’s musical series on the CW, for those unfamiliar and benighted) pulls this off repeatedly, which is impressive considering how many songs are involved. Not quite the same scale as ‘The Good Place,” but nearly as satisfying.

    Most media, though, it’s usually the “ha ha, you were tricked because we didn’t give you enough information to not be tricked” approach.


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