If there’s one idea that “A Lego Brickumentary” wants to express, it’s that those little plastic bricks aren’t just child’s play.
The documentary about everyone’s favorite construction block toy seeks to educate audiences about the limitless possibilities contained within the very simple design. Just add imagination and see what happens. Directed by documentary vets Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge, with narration by Jason Bateman, the film opens up the world of Lego, along with the people and mini-figurines that populate it.
The origin story is neatly, and quickly, illustrated in a nifty Lego animation sequence. The Danish company was the brainchild of Ole Christiansen in 1932 and found its name in the conjunction of “leg godt” — “play well” in Danish. This is also the company’s ethos and driving spirit, as the film illustrates.
The doors aren’t just thrown open behind the scenes at Lego, but also at the Brick conventions where AFOLs (adult fans of Lego) can gather with other AFOLs or TFOLs (teen) or KFOLs (kid) and share their fandom and their creative work. Some of the better known AFOLs featured in the film are “South Park’s” Trey Parker, singer Ed Sheeran and NBA player Dwight Howard.
There’s a whole Lego fan subculture, with its own lingo, and many of these fans have turned their passion for Lego into something more. The film celebrates Lego’s willingness to embrace fan-created work, even accepting designs for new models and kits through a fan-voted contest.
Though the film argues that the tiny bricks aren’t just for kids, the film itself feels like a junior documentary of sorts, a sort of “Docs 4 Kids” introduction to the form.
Bateman’s narration is embodied in the form of a Lego mini-figurine, and the story beats are carefully spelled out in bite-sized chunks. There’s no real conflict in the film, aside from a moment where Lego wasn’t actually profitable (gasp!) because it strayed too far from the original mission, forgetting about user creativity. In some ways, it feels like an educational film to be shown in classrooms or children’s museums.
And it does get repetitive cycling through each example. One of the most relevant and interesting points is developed toward the end: that Lego itself is a closed mathematical system but also a universal language that can unite across borders, cultures and abilities. If there’s one thing about Lego that we learn, it’s that the possibilities are endless.
(At Cinetopia, Screenland Crossroads.)
‘A LEGO BRICKUMENTARY’
Rated G | Time: 1:35