The Religious Undercurrents of The Lego Movie

by lizard

Last night I once again found myself watching The Lego Movie with my kids. I was amused at the Master Builders inability to work together as they attempted to escape the slaughter of Cloud Cuckoo Land by the fascists working for the corporate authoritarian, Lord Business. This morning I decided to putter around a bit online to see if any reviews touched on the larger cultural context of the creative elites—the Master Builders. What I found is very intriguing.

I remembered some criticism of The Lego Movie took issue with the anti-corporate conformity message, but I didn’t realize the extent that some believed this movie was one of the most anti-Christian ever. Before getting to the excerpt, be warned there are SPOILERS ahead. From the link:

All throughout the movie there are references to the “man upstairs.” This is not only a figurative reference to God, but it is a direct reference to the god of the Lego people, because “the man upstairs” is the one who builds them, is the one who created everything, who everyone is looking for, and who everyone is expecting to rescue them. Okay. So that’s not so bad.

The movie centers around a set of rebels who value creative thinking outside the set of “instructions” that Legos would normally follow. The institution of society considers this deviant behavior and emphasizes the importance of always following the instructions. Okay. I’m all for out-of-the-box thinking and creativity in a dormant society. Not so bad.

BUT………………………………

Then it is revealed that the “man up stairs” is really the bad-guy and it is the rebellious son who has introduced chaos and disorder to society by believing the “instruction book” is a bad thing.

Do you see it now? If not, let me just lay it all out for you. You see, the “man upstairs” represents God and the “instruction book” represents the Bible. This rebellious son who introduces chaos, disorder, and a disregard for the “instruction book” to a society built in perfection by “the man upstairs,” of course represents Satan.

I knew there was a larger context to The Lego Movie, and this hints at what I think the movie is getting at. Then, this morning, I stumbled upon this review, titled All that Glitters is Not Gold, and it finally clicked. The underlying current of The Lego Movie is rooted in Gnosticism.

I’ve discussed Gnosticism and its influence on my writing/thinking before, so I won’t rehash it now. For readers who are interested, check out the links and see what you think.


  1. I was curious if you were going to get some critical reaction here today, as “Lego” has a nerdish quality that precludes its use in political discussions. But I am familiar with what Hitchcock or Scorcese or someone said was the job of the movie, to “smuggle truth to the viewer.” Smuggling is done for two reasons (or more) – that the powerful forces known collectively as “Hollywood” have a vicelock grip on the industry and carefully censor everything that goes out, and that viewers themselves are not ready to see and hear what the movie makers are saying.

    So we get movies like this and a few others and I say bravo if indeed it is a smuggling operation.

    • lizard19

      I got laughed at on Twitter, that was it. have you seen the movie, Mark?

    • I am recording it right now, as it is showing this evening on HBO. But I am too tired to watch right now.

  2. I interpreted in completely different.

    The man up stairs was Mohammad, the instruction book the Koran, and the evil one the British throat cutter.

    • lizard19

      no surprise a kids movie is beyond your ability to grasp.

      • Don’t like that one? How ’bout this.

        The man upstairs is Mother Nature, the rebellious son(s) the Koch bros, and the instructional book, Silent Spring.

  3. OK, watched it. Not bad, lots of humor going over kid level. Now I gotta go look up gnosticism. Philosophy and religion, while interesting, are not something I can relate to.

    • lizard19

      another interesting aspect of the movie was bad cop/good cop. the cop figure is humanized by showing bc/gc’s parents, and at the end the adversarial cop is transformed into an ally.

  4. LOL! I love the lego movie! It is in the top funny movies I have ever seen. I saw the movie with my Lego maniac son of 10 mature years and we laughed together. The movie is funny because it says some very true and ironic things. The result laughter. Lots of it!

    The man upstairs: Dad who make too many rules for his son. Dad’s like to do this you know. But in the end his son brings flexibility to his dad. Son’s do that you know. At least in a healthy relationship. Me and my son got it immediately as you can imagine. The father and son become “part of a team” and everything is awesome…end of movie! Great!

    Anyone who equates the “man upstairs” with God has a very warped view of God. I’d call it a straw man view.

    None of the “gnostics” seem to notice that Emit saves the day by “following the instructions.” Notice that next time you see the movie.

    We particularly loved all the rainbows, fish, and such nonsense because it directly related to the “hippy dippy” running joke. In case you didn’t know it, hippies aren’t so hip with the young ones at the moment.

    Batman’s “Darkness…No Parents…” parody song of dark and brooding artsy music was super great! I laughed so hard I had to see the movie again to find out what happened immediately after.

    Anti business theme? Really. Out of Hollywood and Lego mega corporations? Don’t think so. In the end the “Master builders” cooperate, that is work together as a team. The very essence of any successful corporation. “Everything is Awesome everything is cool when you work as a team.” Not a song discontent radicals want kids humming in their heads.

    Anyways, Liz. You really interested in gnosticism? One of the central beliefs is that the material world is evil. Not something a good radical materialist should accept. The irony might make someone LOL :^)

    • lizard19

      yes, I really am interested. Gnosticism intersects with my interest in conspiracy culture and secret societies.

      • Ok. I understand. I am unaware of any who currently hold to the old gnosticism today, but it has influenced some strains of Christianity in a bad way.

        • JC

          Unaware? Really? Where you been, Rev?

          After the discovery of the Nag Hammadi, the translations of those texts hugely affected a wide variety of modern writers, philosophers, scientists, and other intellectuals — not to mention a variety of ecclesiastical bodies.

          • I don’t think we disagree. I am not saying that people are not affected by a gnostic world view, I was just meaning no one keeps a strict and complete gnosticism as in ancient days.




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