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Hammerle On … 'The Lego Movie,' 'The Monuments Men'

Robert Hammerle
February 26, 2014
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“The Lego Movie”

First and foremost, “The Lego Movie” is an adult film masquerading as a children’s movie. Its quality will shock you beyond meaningful description.

For starters, the characters themselves were at all times colossally funny, and this was due to the genius of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Goofy yet stylish, you end up treating them like action characters, and that lies at the center of the film’s inspiration.

However, the script by Dan and Kevin Hageman is diabolically clever from beginning to end. It is an inspirational assault on your senses that overwhelms you with a feeling of warmth. Yet while focusing on much that we hold dear in life, it also has a sarcastic edge that emasculates those in our society who hide behind a holier-than-thou masquerade.

Resisting my regrettable tendency to tell more than you need to know, the film focuses on a small Lego character named Emmet, mistakenly thought to be the savior of the Lego world. Voiced by Chris Pratt, he leads a group of crazed Lego compatriots to save their universe from being glued together by the evil tyrant President Business, voiced by Will Ferrell.hammerle-lego.jpg
Along the way our group of ornery misfits are forced to embrace a basic principle that is all but ignored in their busy society, namely that every person can be creative in their own right. They slowly learn that there is nothing wrong with smiling or lending a helping hand. While tradition is important, so is being unique.

“The Lego Movie” is about the little guy who fights back when he or she decides that enough is enough. In this process, the film barely hides a sharp criticism of the way big business controls a large portion of not just Legoland, but our own country. The villain here is known as Lord Business/President Business, a leader who wants all of society’s members to work hard while they follow a strict rule book. He is interested in doing little more than filling his own coffers, and the rest of society becomes completely expendable.

As I watched “The Lego Movie,” I couldn’t help but think of life in America today. Less than 1 percent of our citizens absorb over half of our national income, and they have succeeded in harnessing a political system that is devastating the middle class. While they fan the flames of the Tea Party, they clamor to reduce access to food stamps while refusing to help raise the minimum wage. You can almost hear them yell, “Don’t raise my taxes, little people!”

Just follow the capitalistic rule book, they say, and everything will be fine. Just ignore the fact that Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, just was awarded a multi-million dollar annual raise after his company paid gigantic fines for massive misconduct. Let’s make sure that people who receive welfare are drug tested, but don’t dare require the same thing of the wealthy who are also receiving massive benefits from the recent national Farm Bill.

What I saw from the little guys in “The Lego Movie” who refused to cave in was what I hoped to see from the residents in West Virginia who are still forced to drink polluted water. If I lived in that state, I would require every businessman and elected official to drink nothing but tap water or explain why they refuse. Come to think of it, I’d demand the same thing of those providing our drinking water here in Indianapolis.

So set aside any doubts you may have and see this movie as soon as possible. Your kids will love it even though they won’t understand it, and you will love it precisely because you do.

“The Monuments Men”

While “The Monuments Men” has been roundly blasted by critics across the country, it still is a powerful historical film. Based on the great book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel, director George Clooney gives the audience a chance to ride along with a few dedicated Allied soldiers who sought nothing more than to preserve Europe’s classic architecture and individual works of art in World War II.

Though the movie itself reveals little of the carnage of the war, it really didn’t have to. As noted by Pulitzer-Prize winner Rick Atkinson in Volume 3 of his liberation trilogy, “The Guns at Last Light,” U.S. casualties in Western Europe totaled 587,000, which included 135,576 dead. Two hundred and fifty thousand Americans laid buried in 457 cemeteries scattered across 86 countries. For an estimated 44,000 lost at sea, nothing could be done. And yet that paled in comparison with the nearly 27 million Russians killed.hammerle-monuments.jpg

“The Monuments Men” simply gives you a close-up view of some of those who risked their lives to retrieve art stolen by the Nazis. If you’ve paid attention to the recent development in Germany where more than 1,280 artworks with ties to the Nazis were recovered from the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, you know that this dramatic quest is still going on to this very day.

Here, you see Clooney’s character leading a team that was sent to various locations in Europe. Sure, when the cast includes John Goodman and Bill Murray, you know there are going to be some funny one-liners. However, to criticize soldiers risking their lives who occasionally had to laugh instead of cry is fundamentally absurd.

Rounding out the cast are Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Matt Damon and Jean Dujardin, and they are all appealing. In particular, Damon stands out as the soldier working undercover in Paris to try to convince the lovely Claire Simone, played with grace and style by Cate Blanchett, to assist their cause.

I have had the experience of visiting the salt mines in Austria, Hitler’s hideaway at Berchtesgaden as well as the abominable concentration camp in Dresden. We will never forget what the Nazis did to over six million Jews, and fortunately future generations will be able to help soothe that pain with the artwork saved by the tremendous efforts of the Monuments Men.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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