A LEGO Brickumentary full movie review - Admittedly fan service, but delightfully so
LEGOs have been the anomaly of the toy industry since their inception in 1949. While Mattel keeps it head above water with successful, universally recognizable toy lines such as Hot Wheels and Barbie, and Hasbro has had strong success with G.
I. Joe, LEGO has found a way to solely capitalize on the versatility and incalculable possibilities of their construction toy. Even though LEGO has succeeded in spawning a variety of spinoffs, such as the ever-so popular and beloved "Bionicles" when I was young, LEGO Architecture, and LEGO Customs, LEGO really only sells one product, whereas other toy companies scramble to try and find the next successful thing to franchise.
Most childhoods I know were accompanied by a LEGO set or two; sitting right beside me as I write this review is a six-foot-long table, admittedly cluttered and disorganized as all Hell, of a variety of LEGO buildings, some erected from the directions out of the box and some from my imagination. As a child, I loved LEGOs and fondly recall making an event out of sitting beside my mother as we built a barrage of sets together. LEGOs were the quintessential gift for children due to the fact that you had the choice of adhering to the instructions that came with every set or exercise your creative freedom by building whatever you found to be enticing. The potential for a universe was at your fingertips and all you had to do was build it.
A LEGO Brickumentary is a film that works to articulate that point and show that LEGO conventions, warehouses, and "master builders," people that work to create record-breaking LEGO sculptures in addition to creating brand new sets, are just as limitless in their scope as the plastic pieces themselves. The creator of the toy was a Danish man by the name of Ole Kirk Christiansen, who created wooden toys in a factory during the 1940's, consistently having to erect new factories following the destruction of one after another in fires. Christiansen purchased a plastic molder upon its invention, marveling at the fact that the machine, while so primitive, could mold and create a wide variety of complex plastic pieces. He found that, when properly manipulated and detailed, plastic blocks could be created and used to construct many different things, which eventually lead to the birth of LEGOs.
The major invention to these multicolored blocks was the "clutch power" added in later, otherwise known as the tiny stubs and holes present on nearly every LEGO block, allowing for secure connectivity and easy transitioning between pieces. Fast-forward decades later and current LEGO engineers and master builders work to create stories and depth behind the characters they create in their new LEGO sets, allowing for a certain richness to come packed in with each construction set. Furthermore, licensed products such as The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Star Wars all found themselves converted to the multicolored bricks in a way that booned the company to record profits and notoriety, in addition to allowing children the freedom to take their beloved characters home in a way that wasn't as vapid as just a plain action figure.
However, our narrator Jason Bateman - who also voices an ordinary LEGO character in the film - tells us how that wasn't always the case. In the mid-2000's, LEGO almost found itself closing its doors, with record-low profits and middling success with their new lines of toys (IE: "Jack Stone" and "4 Plus"). One employee says, at that time, LEGO had become a very arrogant company, one that was hesitant to listen to customer feedback due to perceived superiority on the ends of the CEOS and the employees themselves. When that changed, however, product lines such as LEGO Architecture, a line of universally known and renowned buildings such as the Taj Mahal, Willis Tower, and Empire State Building condensed into LEGO form, and LEGO Customs, a website allowing you to conceive your own LEGO set and having the ability to vote on others for the potential of making it a real set, came to be.
A LEGO Brickumentary's core focus, however, is the fandom and the ostensible impossibilities in size, scope, and popularity LEGOs have achieved on a global level. We are taken into many different conventions, where LEGO fans hold their own competitions (IE: building a LEGO set without being able to see the set of the piece, building LEGOs while the pieces are inside of a bag, and so forth. In addition, we are shown the elaborate codenames that have been given to different pieces and fans of LEGOs, with "AFOL" ("adult fan of LEGOs") being the most common and "MOC" (my own creation) perhaps being the second most. Arguably the most humorous is the nickname for an attractive woman at a LEGO convention, known as a "one-by-five" because LEGO does not make a one-by-five piece.
Finally, directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge show us how LEGO is working to break records every day. We see the creation of a life-size ex-wing fighter, using over five million LEGO bricks, equating to more than eight tons of material. With that, numerous "master builders," engineers, and interior designers work to create and perfect the steel frame and structure behind the fighter.
A LEGO Brickumentary is, admittedly, fan service; similar to Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, anyone already acquainted and thoroughly in love with the product in hand will find themselves delighted by the film solely because of its existence. While corny when it focuses on Bateman's LEGO character, this is a fairly solid look into a company that continues to expand and shows no sign of slowing down, creatively or financially.
Directed by: Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge.