It’s a very opportune time for A LEGO Brickumentary (opening today) to be released. LEGO, undoubtedly, is looking to bask in the glory of its classic product, the interchangeable construction bricks in which it, quite literally, has built an empire with. With last year’s The LEGO Movie, the company is at the height of its popularity, so it only makes sense that a glowing documentary would be required, to cement all of our love for such a nostalgic and iconic toy. And while it should serve the masses well – and because it is in truth, quite harmless – A LEGO Brickumentary plays like an in-house corporate propaganda video, meant to encourage loyalty and increase morale among co-workers. According to it, LEGO blocks are the most important tool ever created and its uses and benefits are infinite.
To its credit, it makes a good case. The documentary is narrated by – who else? – a little LEGO man, who takes us back to the company’s beginnings in Denmark over a half-a-century ago and gives us some inside intel on how the company operates. Every time this little man appears, the film centers itself, but in-between it flies in several different directions, following several different people in varying walks of life, as they show us how LEGOs have influenced their lives. Mainly though, it chronicles the many ways that LEGOs are being used all over the world, as inspirations for artists, scientists, mathematicians, and even doctors, to rid the world of all evils and to inspire us all to “play well” together.
Did you know that LEGOs are being used to treat children with autism, or that there are LEGOs in space, like real outer space? That LEGO stop-motion movies are being crowd-funded and that a LEGO art exhibit recently opened in Times Square? How about that LEGO cities, built to scale, are helping city planning commissions solve traffic and other urban issues? Did you know that there are massive LEGO conventions with nerds – not unlike Trekkies – assemble to assemble with one another, or that they’ve created their own LEGO short-hand language, their own LEGO-centric competitions and their own LEGO-building awards?
There is no doubt that LEGOs hold a place in our global culture. This film is a celebration though, and nothing else.
Take for example, its brief mention of its “hard” financial times in the early 2000s, when the LEGO company showed profit losses for the first time. The film paints the picture of LEGOs resurgence after this brief dip, by having started to listen more to the public. Surely, LEGO may be influenced a great deal by those that use its product – maybe more than most corporations – but it doesn’t even mention the real reason LEGO was able to claw its way out of debt: Licensing agreements. Yes, when Space, Castle and Town LEGOs weren’t quite cutting it, LEGO whored itself out to branding, and it was a financial masterstroke. So yes, LEGO fan, you might have helped the company get back on its feet with your ideas for new projects, but it was licensing Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and comic book franchises that really sent LEGO into the stratosphere.
Quibbles aside, A LEGO Brickumentary makes a point in that its toy has maintained its popularity through generations of kids and adults alike, due to the fact that it ties in with the basic human curiosity to learn, build, destroy and invent. And if you like LEGOs, like 99% of people out there, this movie will surely include some interesting tidbits of information for you that make it worth watching. But just don’t look for an in-depth expose on one of the greatest corporate success stories of all time. It’s OK to celebrate, but the way that this doc chooses to build itself up is a bit…square.
Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated G
Directed by Kief Davidson, Daniel Junge (Open Heart)
Opens locally on Friday, July 31, 2015 (check for show times).