As a child, some of my favourite cartoon episodes brought together villains that usually worked alone. When such big personalities joined forces, I got anxious to see how their interactions would play out. It was fun to watch divergent styles applied towards a common purpose. I felt the same way about sports and music. Major League Baseball’s ‘all-star’ game was my favourite baseball event of the year and many of the albums I bought were by various artists. These things fascinated me because they involved many gifted people contributing to the creation of something irreplacably special. I remember feeling like a god when I played a baseball video game that let me make dream teams using real life players.
I wonder if movie studio heads felt similarly back when every studio was like a professional sports team with a talent roster they could mix and match. When I find out that my favourite actors or actresses are together in a movie, I hope they have some chemistry and give strong performances inspired by a good script. I also prefer if their characters don’t abuse each other. I know it’s all make-believe, but I still get upset when they treat each other badly.
For example, I love Herbert Marshall, so I hate how several movies cast him as a nice guy with a cheating wife. In “Woman Against Woman”, he’s married to Mary Astor, who I currently adore more than any other actress. The good news: she doesn’t leave him like his other movie wives. The bad news: they break up anyway! Ugh. Fortunately, the performances have depth. Marshall gets more dignity than his betrayed husbands. Astor succeeds at the tricky task of convincingly evolving from manipulative to benevolent.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting excited by the novelty of people or characters I liked in one context getting together in a new one. This was something I appreciated about “The Lego Movie”. My favourite moment is one I love because of the ‘dream team factor’. A huge audience gathers for a speech, and the spectators include Milhouse Van Houten from “The Simpsons”, Michaelangelo from the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, and basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal.
Seeing these characters in the same crowd was as thrilling as seeing The Joker, The Penguin, and Two-Face together in a Batman episode for the first time. They may look odd together, but that’s part of what makes their juxtaposition so neat. Opposites attract, and as “The Lego Movie” asserts, unusual combinations of people and characters can create surprisingly wonderful sights and stories.