The term "Master Builder" is actually an official designation by the LEGO Company; per their website, "LEGO® Master Builders are the highly-trained and super-creative builders who design all of the official LEGO sets. Other LEGO Master Builders create giant, detailed sculptures out of LEGO bricks for LEGOLAND® Parks and special events all around the world."
In order to add more realism to the movie, the LEGO bricks have scratches, fading, and even fingerprints to make the movie look like someone was manipulating real bricks in a stop-motion fashion. The bricks are also affected by their locations, with the bricks in The Old West realm being more dusty and faded from the sunlight.
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) reprised their roles from the original Star Wars trilogy. Daniels also provided C-3PO's voice in numerous Star Wars animated series, and previous LEGO Star Wars movie productions.
Vitruvius was a Roman author and architect in the first century B.C., best known for his multi-volume work titled "De Architectura". Etymologically, the word "architect" derives from Greek words meaning "master" and "builder".
During the ending, when Emmet is explaining to President Business about the sets that the people have built, the LEGO videos playing on the televisions in the background are real LEGO stop-motion films (known as "Brickfilms") made by LEGO fans, and were not made by any of the filmmakers.
Benny, a.k.a. the "1980-something space guy" (Charlie Day), a minifigure from LEGO's classic Space line, has a broken helmet and a worn-out, scuffed logo on his suit, similar to how many real-life Space minifigures look after being used. The helmet is even shown to be cracked at the same spot where the real-life LEGO piece would usually break.
Everything in the movie was designed to look as if built out of LEGO pieces. This even includes effects like water, fire, laser bolts, explosions, and smoke. For instance, the lasers are actually transparent LEGO rods (commonly known as "Lightsaber blades"), while smaller puffs of smoke are LEGO ice cream pieces. This is in contrast with the direct-to-video LEGO movies and cartoon series, in which parts of the sceneries and most of the effects were made to look realistic.
The creators deliberately tried to make the movie feel like stop-motion animation, and avoided making the computer-generated effects look too obvious. This was done, to make the movie look like it contained real LEGOs.
An early script had many of the character's names different, R2-D2 and Indiana Jones being main characters, Emmet (Chris Pratt) still living with his elderly mother, who turns out to be "the most powerful woman in the universe", had Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) actually swear instead of saying "darn", Larry the Barista (Chris McKay) having a larger role, and Benny (Charlie Day) having a co-pilot that's an inanimate mop called Moppy.
Metal Beard's (Nick Offerman's) Five Laws of the Sea include; Never place your rear end on a pirate's face. Never release a Kracken. Never put ye hand in a clam's mouth. Always abandon a lost cause. Never wear a dress on Tuesday.
After the first "Everything is Awesome" sequence, the title card that says "5 Hours Later" in LEGOs, is a photograph of real LEGOs, and one of the few non-CGI LEGO shots in the movie. The ending credits are also real LEGOs, animated by stop-motion.
Upon first entering in Cloud Cuckoo Land, Batman (Will Arnett) is visibly annoyed by the place as two characters, a clown and a man in a lizard or dinosaur suit, are greeting him. These two figures are reminiscent of two of Batman's most formidable foes: The Joker and Killer Croc.
Metal Beard's pirate crew is made up of the Flash (from DC comics), Michelangelo (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Speed Racer (from the franchise of the same name), Lady Pirate, the Pirate Captain, and another random pirate (from LEGO Pirates), Barry Smoothmoves a.k.a. "Disco Dude", the Magician, Medusa, the Mime, the Witch, and the Zookeeper (all from LEGO Minifigures).
Upon its release, this movie became the most commercially successful animated film made by Warner Brothers Pictures, besting Happy Feet (2006), as well as the most critically acclaimed animated film made by the studio since The Iron Giant (1999).
No simulated motion blur was used in the film, to further give it the look of a stop-motion LEGO film. When scenes called for fast action, such as when Benny is building his spaceship, the animators constructed LEGO brick "streaks" the same colors as the characters.
In the chase in The Old West, the pig-drawn carriage gets blown into the sky. In a following shot from above, you can see objects crashing to the ground. At the top of the screen, one of the pigs hits the ground and explodes into sausages.
The map of the LEGO world has regions labelled: Bricksburg, The Old West, Middle Zealand, Cape Space, Pirate's Cove, Viking's Landing, Pharaoh's Quest, Dino Island, Atlantis, Vladek's Realm (Vladek was the main villain of the Knights' Kingdom II theme), Technic Mecha Mine. Forest of Obsolete Products. Octan HQ, All are references to various LEGO toy lines.
When Emmet jumps into the abyss near Lord Business' tower, and finds himself in the real world, he passes through a cardboard tube labelled "Magic Portal". This is a reference to "The Magic Portal", the first LEGO stop-motion animated film (or "Brickfilm").
The piece of music Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is playing on the piano as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Emmet (Chris Platt) enter the saloon, is a ragtime version of "Everything Is Awesome", the movie's theme song.
In The Birds by Aristophanes (414 B.C.), Mr. Trusting and Mr. Hopeful erect a perfect city in the clouds, to be named Cloud Cuckoo Land, an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. In the movie, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the home of Princess Unikitty, a land up in the clouds, where there are no rules and no limits.
When talking about the different LEGO worlds, a very quick slideshow plays as Wyldstyle says "a bunch of others we don't need to mention". This contains images of Fabuland, a storybook-style range aimed at young children that ran from 1979 to 1989, BIONICLE, LEGO's successful action-figure and multimedia franchise, 2001 to 2010, and 2015 to 2016, LEGO Friends, a theme aimed exclusively at girls, 2012-, and Speed Racer, based on the Speed Racer (2008) movie, all themes whose style didn't fit in with the movies, and couldn't be incorporated into its story. However, a Speed Racer Minifigure does appear later on as part of the pirate crew.
When the Master Builders are being brought to Lord Business (Will Ferrell) after Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) tracks Emmet (Chris Pratt), there is a shot of Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders) being handcuffed, to which she replies sullenly. This may be a reference to her older comics, in which her established weakness is having her hands bound by a man. This weakness has been phased out of more recent comics.
Emmet drives a modified 3177 Small Car, an actual set from LEGO City's 2010 lineup. The differences from the set are the curved front bumper and its side mirrors. The model was later released as a promotional set, called "Emmet's Car" or "Fly Car", made to look exactly as on film.
Various LEGO characters, either original or from licensed properties, make cameos, or play bit parts. These include, among others: Johnny Thunder (from the Adventurers line), Lloyd Garmadon the Green Ninja (Ninjago), C-3PO, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian (Star Wars), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Gandalf (Lord of the Rings), Shaquille O'Neal and the NBA All-Stars (Sports), Lion Knights (Castle), Milhouse Van Houten (The Simpsons (1989)), and many characters from the Minifigures series.
The appropriately named Blacktron Fan, a background character who was also included in one of the movie's tie-in sets, wears a Blacktron logo on his shirt. Blacktron (1987 to 1988) was the first unified "bad guy" subtheme of LEGO Space.
This is Wonder Woman's debut in a theatrical film. Likewise, this is also the first theatrical film to have Batman and Superman together, before the live-action Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which featured the live-action theatrical debut of Wonder Woman.
Cobie Smulders voiced Wonder Woman in a cameo role. Coincidentally, Smulders had been considered to play a live-action Wonder Woman for a movie written by Joss Whedon, who cast her as Agent Maria Hill of DC Comics' rival company Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. LEGO happens to have licensing rights to both comic companies.
The movie showed a couple of references to Fabuland, most notably on the shirts of a couple of Minifigures (possibly alluding to "throwback" shirts). Fabuland was LEGO's "transition" storybook line that existed from 1979 to 1989.
President Business' special cape is shaped like a giant necktie. This could be a nod to a previous Will Ferrell role. Ferrell, who plays the President, is well known for playing the fashion designer Mugatu in Zoolander (2001), where it is discovered he is the inventor of the "Piano Key" necktie.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller): (dolphin): The dolphin call heard in every episode of Clone High (2002) is heard on when the characters are first introduced to Cloud Cuckoo land.
Lord Business constantly mispronounces popular products either intentionally or because of obscured letters (Nail Polish Remover is "the remover polish of Naile", X-Acto Knife is "The Sword of Exact 0", and Krazy Glue is "Kragle" because of letters scratched off the tube.
In a scene inside the Octan tower, the robot army can be seen at work, typing on computers. However, upon closer inspection, it can be seen that every robot has the game "Solitaire" open. A common procrastination game in offices.
Indiana Jones was originally going to be a central character. He can still be seen briefly building the secret tunnel out of Bricksburg, losing his hat in the process, and only grabbing it just in time (Indiana's signature move).
"Pièce de résistance" is a French term, translated into English literally as "piece of (or for) resistance", referring to the best part or feature of something, as in a meal, a showpiece, or highlight.
The story is similar to The Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King. Characters from different dimensions team up to search for a mystical artifact, which could save or destroy the universe. Some of the primary settings include analogues of Middle Earth, the Wild West, and modern America.
To promote the movie, the British television station ITV broadcasted a whole commercial break containing four different commercials, re-created by LEGO figures, ended with the official movie trailer. According to ITV and Warner Brothers, this project was a world premiere.
(At around one hour and three minutes) Bad Cop is briefly seen and heard singing the song "Danny Boy", a ballad written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly, and is set to the Irish tune of "Londonderry Air". Bad Cop was portrayed by Liam Neeson, a well known Irish actor.
There is a statue of a skeleton with a cowboy hat atop a horse in the old west saloon with a plaque that says "Bob & Skelly", visible when Wyldstyle and Emmet first enter the saloon. This is a nod to the characters of Bones and Skelly from LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers (2010).
Lord Business' obsession with "tacos" has an interesting connection. "Tako", in Japanese, means "octopus". The micro-manager robots he uses bear more than a passing resemblance to octopi, some of the instruction bricks feature octopi, and Lord Business is head of the "Octan" company. Furthermore, "taco" is written phonetically as "tako" at several later stages.
The minifigure used to represent Green Lantern was never released in any retail LEGO Set. The figure was given out with raffles at New York Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, to coincide with the re-release of LEGO Superheroes. The figure is one of the most expensive LEGO minifigures on the market. The figure was also given out at the same events as the Comic-Con exclusive Batman suit, which is seen hanging in the Batcave as an alternate suit for Will Arnett's Batman in The LEGO Batman Movie (2017).
Elizabeth Banks also played a character nicknamed "Wild Style" on Modern Family (2009). In season four, episode seventeen, "Best Men", Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) referred to her by the nickname in a toast.
In the scene where the citizens build various creations to fight Lord Business, the medieval citizens of Middle Zealand are seen building a giant wooden rabbit, a possible reference to the one built by King Arthur and his knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In scenes depicting Bricksburg, there are Octan posters located throughout with slogans indicating Lord Business' heavy emphasis on order and following instructions. However, there are also a few rules that seem specific to come from a father figure, such as "Don't stay up all nite", and "Don't play in the street", foreshadowing his identity as The Man Upstairs.
Similarities to The Matrix trilogy abound. Emmet and Neo live in a world which is a construct of another outside entity. Emmet and Neo are chosen as "the one". Both "die" and have a rebirth. Neo dies at the end of The Matrix (1999), is brought back, and able to see the Matrix for what it is. Emmet plummets into the human world. He is dropped back into his LEGO world by a human child. Upon his return, he proclaims "I can see everything" with the ability to see part numbers to all of the LEGO pieces, much like Neo could see the Matrix. Even the Micro Managers in this movie look similar to the giant robots found in the human harvesting fields in the "real world" of the Matrix. Also Vitruvius' fight with the robots shortly before he dies, is similar to Neo's fight with Agent Smith in The Matrix Reloaded (2003). Furthermore, Will Ferrell's role of The Man Upstairs in this movie, is very similar to his role of The Architect in MTV: Reloaded (2003), a spoof of The Matrix Reloaded.
When Batman says to Wyldstyle that she can be with Emmet, he says, "He is the hero you deserve", much like Commisoner Gordon said of Batman at the end of The Dark Knight (2008). Gordon said, "Because he is the hero Gotham deserves."
First time that Chris Pratt distracts his enemy by dancing and beat-boxing. He did it again in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), during the ending fight with Ronan (Lee Pace). This time while in disguise as a robot with Wyldstyle.
When passing through the "Magic Portal", several animated backgrounds pass behind Emmet, when he is falling from the tower, and returning to the LEGO World. The final effect of glowing white LEGO bricks one row wide flowing from a swirling blue vortex is only seen briefly, but is the same effect used in the game LEGO Dimensions when travelling between worlds. LEGO Dimensions prominently features Wyldstyle, Lord Business, and other LEGO Movie characters in its story, and features a stage based on this movie. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) breifly showed the endless void, into which Emmet falls, and also had a set made for LEGO Dimensions. Despite all of this, no indication has been made as to how the stories relate, if they do at all.