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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

A Lego Brickumentary documentary review: brick by brick

A Lego Brickumentary yellow light

It does sort of feel like one of those rah-rah corporate promo videos they make you watch on the day you start a new job, but there are some surprises here.
I’m “biast” (pro): love Legos (who doesn’t?)

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It does sort of feel like one of those rah-rah corporate promotional videos they make you watch on the day you start a new job, in between filling out all the paperwork and being taken to lunch by your new boss, with its forced cheerfulness and its willingness to “criticize” its subject only to the degree that it shows how progressive and open-minded it is. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone with a bad word to say about Lego bricks or the company that makes them, beyond “Ouch” when you step on the damn things barefoot after the kids leave them all over the living room. So I’m not sure what other sort of documentary we could get about Lego bricks, the Lego company, and the subculture that has developed around both the toys and their maker. Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses 2) — as a Lego minifig — narrates this look, from documentarians Kief Davidson (Oscar nominee) and Daniel Junge (Oscar winner), at the development of the bricks and how the company expanded the brand while still keeping a tight focus by listening to ideas from fans and encouraging their input not only on new modeling sets but on whole new realms for the toy to move in, such as serious architectural models for grownups. Unsurprisingly, fan builders and their conventions get a lot of play here, but we also discover a few actually surprising offshoots of Lego love, including how playing with the bricks works as a therapeutic exercise for kids with autism. That’s pretty cool. This may be nothing more than a giant ad for a toy, but at least it’s a toy that inspires lots of interesting people — engineers, designers, filmmakers, artists, mathematicians — to do some truly neat-o things. Now where is that box of Legos that was around here…?

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