'The Lego Movie' Is Getting Rave Reviews, and You Shouldn't Be Surprised
Let this week be the last time any of us are surprised that a project from Phil Lord and Chris Miller turns out to be good.
As of right this moment, The Lego Movie—due to open in theaters on Friday—is sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% fresh rating.
On the one hand, this is a surprising development. Movies based on children's toys, from Transformers to G.I. Joe, have been pretty reliable punching bags for critics and, in the case of Battleship at least, ignored by audiences, too. The Lego Movie sure seemed like yet another crass cash-in attempt. But all you had to do was look to the directing and writing credits for the movie to realize there was at least a good chance this one would be better. Phil Lord and Chris Miller have been on a major hot streak when it comes to delivering movies that turn out way better than their packaging might suggest. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street were both surprise hits among critics and audiences, overcoming silly titles and the TV remake stigma, respectively, to earn some real respect. (Cloudy had a sequel out in 2013; 22 Jump Street is out this year.)
Before they scored at the movies, however, Lord and Miller cut their teeth on TV, writing for the short-lived Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane and something called Go Fish starring Kieran Culkin. But by far their greatest contribution to television, nay to culture itself, was Clone High.
Unfairly forgotten by history, Clone High ran for one glorious season on MTV in 2002-03. It aired in the 10 Spot. Remember the 10 Spot? As an odd animated show that was originally broadcast in Canada, it was maybe not the most natural fit on the channel (this was the era of Sorority Life and Fraternity Life, two shows also lost to history, but that's another article). It also got caught up in an incredibly silly controversy over its depiction of a teenage Gandhi. That'll happen when the premise of your show is that genetic clones of history's greatest figures were created by the government way, way back in the 1980s, and now they've reached their angsty teenage years.
The show is an absolute masterpiece, featuring Lord and Miller at their silly best and in possession of some great comedic voice talent, from Will Forte to Nicole Sullivan to Christa Miller. It also featured a robot butler named Mr. Butlertron (because the intellectual property police wouldn't let them call him Mr. Belvetron).
Even better, the whole series appears to be uploaded to YouTube, which is great, and probably not legal, but speaking as someone who had to physically travel to Canada to acquire my DVD of the complete first (and only) season, I'm not shedding any tears. [Nowadays, however, it is available in limited stock on Amazon, so get you a copy.] This is important television and it will ensure you never underestimate a Phil Lord/Chris Miller movie ever again.