Documentaries on fandom often end up excessive celebration without any of the self-reflection that the genre usually provides. A LEGO Brickumentary is fun, but it may not appeal to anyone who isn’t already familiar with the brand. LEGO fans are a passionate bunch, and not just kids anymore. AFOLs (Adult fan of LEGO) are taking the bricks and creating a movement for themselves. The LEGO Movie took over the world last year, but LEGO has been dominating the landscape as the number two toy company in the world for years, thanks, in part, to their super passionate fan-base.
BrickCon illustrates how the Danish phenomenon surpassed the even grandest expectations of executives. Thousands of fans flock to Seattle for such awesome sights as a replication of Rivendell built by the award-winning Alice Finch. LEGO is largely treated as a boy’s club, and the film reinforces that belief, unfortunately. Finch’s inclusion only feels like the tip of the iceberg of other impassioned LEGO fans who deserve their own coverage. In addition to the replications on display, visitors can participate in LEGO boat races and blind-assembly contests.
For all of the highs A LEGO Brickumentary chronicles, the falls are handled rather quickly. 1999’s market losses almost lead to the toy company going out of business in 2003, but that downturn is characterized as losing sight of LEGO’s greatest asset: creativity. A behind the scenes look at the LEGO designers depicts workers constrained by what consumers are able to replicate realistically. Builders outside the company can literally make whatever they want, and that leaves a lot of room for tinkering. CUUSOO–a system made for suggesting sets to LEGO headquarters–opened the company up to a variety of new lines and now they are taking off more than ever.
The endless possibilities for what LEGO can be used for has provided entertainment all over the world, but the real power of the toy is briefly touched upon when the film shifts to a child psychologist who treats autistic children. The children are placed in groups of three and each is assigned to one of three roles for group building exercises. The group-play has led to great results in the participant’s abilities to connect with other children. That a toy could provide therapeutic hopes for autistic kids could power an entire film by itself, but LEGO’s coverage barely clocks any significant time at all.
A LEGO Brickumentary is a lively breeze, but likely only for hardcore fans because casual viewers might mistakenly assume the film is a 90 minute infomercial. Associations with geek properties like Marvel, DC and Star Wars take up a large portion of the film. A big treat for geeks is the life-sized X-wing at Times Square that took 5,500,000 bricks to make, making it the largest LEGO model ever, and its creation is returned to early and often. The filmmakers also chat with The LEGO Brickumentary directors, along with South Park creator Trey Parker and NBA star Dwight Howard. The talks are fairly superficial, but narrator Jason Bateman livens things up with some stop-motion LEGO animation hijinks.
This LEGO documentary isn’t as ground-breaking as the Hollywood film that blew away fans last year, but those curious about the LEGO-mania would be well-served by what Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge have to offer.