The Lego Movie

Inciting Event: After meeting Master Builder Wyldstyle and falling into a hole beneath a construction site, Emmet finds the prophesied relic the Piece of Resistance—which makes him the chosen one called “the Special.” This is Emmet’s first brush with the conflict. He has no idea as yet that there is a conflict or that he’s the Special, but with the Piece of Resistance now stuck to his back, he’s literally involved.

First Plot Point: Wyldstyle rescues Emmet from Bad Cop (who, at the command of Lord Business, is going to melt Emmet in order to destroy the Piece of Resistance) and takes him through the secret tunnel into the realm of the Old West. This is where Emmet literally leaves behind his old Normal World and enters an entirely new world—one he didn’t even realize existed. Even though he’s still pretty clueless, he’s now thoroughly enmeshed in the conflict. He can never return to his Normal World, both in the metaphoric sense (because he now knows things he didn’t previously: about the Piece of Resistance, the Special, and the secret tunnel) and literally (because Bad Cop will kill him).

First Pinch Point: I got a little hung up on the First Pinch Point in this movie. The early scene in which Lord Business tells Bad Cop his plans to use the Kragle to cement the Lego world into perfection—and then glues Bad Cop’s parents as an example—is an awesomely perfect pinch point. It neatly introduces the new clues of the bad guy’s plans and emphasizes his power and ability to achieve them. However, the timing is off. It’s way too early, and doesn’t really provide a plot-propelling turning point for the First Half of the Second Act.

So I’m going to have to go with Bad Cop’s appearance in the Old West as the real First Pinch Point here. This is where he discovers Emmet, Wyldstyle, and the blind wizard Vitruvius and chases them out of the Old West. However, if you want a great example of a scene that could just as well have been a First Pinch Point, look at that earlier scene with Lord Business and Bad Cop.

Midpoint: After Vitruvius introduces Emmet as the Special to the Master Builders, Bad Cop attacks and destroys their home in free-wheeling Cloud Cuckoo Land. Emmet finally starts taking action by building the double-decker couch in which his friends can hide and escape capture.

It’s interesting to note the balance provided here (as it often is) by alternating the positive and negative effect of the First Plot Point and the Midpoint. Here, the First Plot Point was a positive event, which is then balanced by a Midpoint with a negative event. In stories with negative First Plot Points, the Midpoints will usually be positive.

Second Pinch Point: During Emmet and his friends’ attempt to infiltrate Lord Business’s base, Vitruvius is killed and everyone is captured. In some stories, this would be strong enough to be the Third Plot Point—so you know it’s doing a good job of emphasizing exactly what is at stake for the characters, as well as foreshadowing the actual low moment of the Third Plot Point to follow.

Third Plot Point: After Lord Business attaches Emmet to a battery that is set to blow up all the Master Builders, Emmet sacrifices himself to save them by throwing himself and the battery out the window. He appears to die—which adds this always important thematic element to the Third Plot Point. However, it does leave the grieving and “resurrecting” to his surviving friends, since Emmet himself disappears from the story for a significant period of time.

Climax: After landing in the human world and meeting the “man upstairs”—the business-obsessed father of the little boy who has been playing with Emmet and his friends and creating their story—Emmet returns to the Lego world armed to do final battle with Lord Business (the alter-ego of the man upstairs). The Climax plays out both on the Lego level between Emmet and Lord Business and on the human level between the man and his son.

Climactic Moment: Emmet convinces Lord Business he doesn’t have to be the bad guy—that he can be the Special too. Lord Business (and the man upstairs) puts the Piece of Resistance on the Kragle and ends the conflict.

Resolution: Wyldstyle breaks up with her boyfriend (Batman), so she and Emmet can be together. The man and his son play with the Legos.

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