Entertainment

‘Lego Brickumentary’ Review

Doc captures toy's cultural domination

What can’t those colorful Lego blocks do?

One man shows. Social bonding on a global scale. Inspiring innovators, researchers and artists. And, of course, convincing filmmakers to promote Lego lines for all to see.

The classic toys anchored last year’s animated smash “The Lego Movie,” which doubled as the hippest 90-minute commercial ever. Does “A Lego Brickumentary” offer more of the same?

The documentary details the rise … and rise of the Danish toy brand. It’s entertaining, spry and occasionally emotional when those blocks opened up new worlds for those with autism. Oscar-winning director Daniel Junge, working with Kief Davidson, take even the most droll details and make them pop with whimsical narration by Jason Bateman and keen editing choices.

It still feels like one, long Lego infomercial, but in 2015 it’s Lego’s world.

It still feels like one, long Lego infomercial, but in 2015 it’s Lego’s world. We merely live in it. Think that’s hyperbole? There’s so much Lego cultural content here the film doesn’t bother to deep dive into the company’s expansive “Star Wars” ties. It doesn’t need to given the crush of compelling stories featured.

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What emerges is a company success story that could teach the world how to operate in the modern workplace. Lego welcomes innovators, invites consumer interaction and doesn’t send out a team of lawyers, to take the documentary at face value, when other companies piggybacks on its success.

Take Brickarms, a firm that manufactures Lego-style weapons and military gear that click seamlessly into the toy’s universe. Lego only makes old-school guns or futuristic weapons for its brand, but it allows Brickarms access to the Lego subculture to make fans happy.

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The toys themselves deflect some of the obvious criticism about the film’s promotional nature. While some kiddie obsessions break within minutes or offer little in the way of imaginative play, Lego guarantees an extended shelf life. Just consider how many adults play a pivotal role in the film. Consider the AFOLs (adult fans of Lego) featured here who swap tips, admire new toy lines and bond in ways that might not have been possible with other toys.

The toys themselves deflect some of the obvious criticism about the film’s promotional nature.

The company began in a humble, and occasionally fiery, fashion. The creator’s factory burned down three times over the years, but that couldn’t stop the Lego world domination. Only in the 1990s did the Lego brand take a dive, when company officials lost sight of the prime directive — people like to build guided by both instruction and their own creativity. Lego attempted a course correction, and now the brand is stronger than ever, we’re told.

for-kidsThe documentary can’t help but pump up the product, but a few shrewd edits would have lessened the marketing aspects of the film. Too often we see Lego-planned media events, as if recorded by the company’s PR team. Yes, it details the scope of Lego Mania, but we’ve seen that in play throughout the film’s narrative.

“A Lego Brickumentary” runs a tidy 90 minutes, but the message hits home long before then. Small children may ogle the cool Lego fare — like an X-Wing Fighter that weighs more than 44,000 pounds. Still, teens and adults with long memories are the best audiences for this “Brickumentary.”

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