Usually, we post final drafts of scripts to give writers good examples of what to do, but that’s ignoring the most necessary, and oftentimes grueling, process: rewriting. Rewriting isn’t an exact science, if by science you mean banging your head against the keyboard and furiously hitting backspace. It’s also incredibly difficult. In most first drafts, writers are still finding the characters and themes, and by the end of it, the plot they initially envisioned may no longer support the themes or characters they ended up falling in love with. Changing one element in Act One is like pulling a thread from a sweater: you never know how long the thread’s gonna be, and there’s no way of knowing until you’re done pulling. But everyone has to rewrite. Even the professionals. The vast majority of this Lego Movie script, written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who currently have two of the best track records in Hollywood (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), did not survive into the final draft. That’s not to say the earlier draft is bad, but somewhere along the rewriting process, Lord and Miller found a better way to express the themes they wished to convey.
The twist at the end of the movie works in this earlier draft, but it doesn’t resonate as strongly thematically (or narratively) as the one that was filmed, even if it has tons of fun, funny, inventive moments. As such, the decision to make the movie’s President Business (who isn’t in this draft) a direct representation of The Man Upstairs works much better, and the slight changes to Emmet’s character bring the movie more of a childlike wonder. Unfortunately, that meant many characters who read very funny on the page (including Emmet’s Mom, President Iamnotarobot, Larry the Barista, and Indiana Jones) were left on the cutting room floor. On a larger scale, the addition of President Business meant the antagonist and the antagonist’s goals (as well as the majority of the plot) had to change. Fortunately, Lord and Miller were more than up to the task, and they reworked what would have been an entertaining animated movie into a comedic masterpiece.
The title page says, “Based on the Awesome Toys by The LEGO Corporation,” which a cynic might label shameless brown-nosing, but after reading the script and watching the movie, it’s hard to doubt that Lord and Miller earnestly believe that. Everything about this movie really is awesome.