A Lego Brickumentary—Beyond question, this documentary makes a convincing case that Legos, the little interlocking plastic bricks and the infinite variety of playsets they’ve inspired, are among the most culturally influential toys in the world. But as far as I can recall, I never had Legos as a kid. I can’t even remember ever playing with them at another kid’s house.
So, as with last year’s The Lego Movie, I didn’t have the same direct emotional, nostalgic connection to the subject matter as many people of the last few generations. I watched this Brickumentary as an outsider.
Even from outside, however, it’s an interesting story. Narrated by a Lego “minifig” voiced by Jason Bateman, the movie sketches the history of the line, which originated in Denmark in the late ‘40s—the corporate headquarters is still in Billund—then goes on to wander the world, showing the various subcultures and sub-subcultures that have sprung up around “BrickCons”: The AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego), KFOLs (Kid Fans), and their terminology, like BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece). My favorite bit of this slang was a “1x5,” here explained as a hot chick; as much a rarity at Lego gatherings as a brick of those dimensions.
We’re also shown the uses to which the bricks have been put in science, art, architecture, filmmaking and therapy. And we get interviews with celebrity AFOLs like Ed Sheeran, Trey Parker and Dwight Howard.
Slickly directed by Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge, A Lego Brickumentary is watchable and pleasant, driven along by colorful Lego animations and a fine, sprightly score by John Jennings Boyd. Parts of it are intriguing, parts are funny, here and there—as when we see an autistic kid’s enthusiasm for Lego—it’s even a little bit touching.
Overall, though, the film has a somehow impersonal feel, almost like a string of human-interest stories from a TV newscast, edited together. Lego is not, perhaps, a trivial subject, but this movie feels like the corporate official story, and as a result, I regret to say, all in all it’s just another brick in the wall.