‘A LEGO Brickumentary’ Can’t Quite Put All the Pieces Together

GameStop, Inc.

lego-brickumentary-001

It’s truly amazing the level with which LEGO has invaded our cultural landscape. Once just a toy of plastic bricks, LEGO has become a toy that has transcended age and invaded almost every aspect of the culture. As these building blocks have grown immensely in popularity over the past few years, directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge have ventured to examine the phenomena surrounding LEGO. With A LEGO Brickumentary, the filmmakers scour the globe to explore the history and varied uses of LEGO. The result is a film made with passion, but a lengthy love letter to LEGO isn’t necessarily compelling cinema.

Jason Bateman provides the voice of the little LEGO man, known as “minifigs,” that is the narrator. He guides the action from the history of LEGO recreated in LEGOs to the inner-workings of the company, and the inner-hierarchy of designers and master builders. After briefly talking to people like South Park co-creator Trey Parker and LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the film gives us a glimpse of the conventions that have sprouted from the community, and then to its applications in science and art and more. Herein lies one of the film’s biggest deficiencies: It wants to show you everything great about LEGO without attempting to pass on a human connection to the audience.

Davidson and Junge’s film is very good at exploring the almost limitless potential of LEGO, especially in regards to its applications to science. One of the more fascinating elements of the film is when they speak to a mathematician who has tried to calculate the exact number of variations for 6 conventional blocks – the number is in excess of 900,000,000. But as many ways you can put all these pieces of LEGOs together, the film can’t put all its pieces together into something more. When combined with information about LEGO’s uses in architecture, treatment of autism, as well as hitting the LEGO conventions and just about every other nook and cranny of this popular subculture, we’re left with nothing but brief glimpses that can’t elicit more of reaction than, “Oh, that’s kind of cool.”

For those embedded deep within the world of LEGO, there’s probably a lot to connect with in A LEGO Brickumentary. There is a passion working behind the film, but Davidson and Junge are unable to project that passion onscreen. In the shadow of The LEGO Movie, which subverted genre while simultaneously touting the creative nature of LEGOs, A LEGO Brickumentary feels like it was assembled by following strict, inoffensive instructions.

A LEGO Brickumentary opens in select theaters and VOD platforms on July 31st, 2015.

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