Richard stops by “Canada AM” with a gaggle of gifts for the movie lover? Do you have a “Star Wars” fan on your list? How about a Lego First Order Special Forces Fighter or a Crochet Chewbacca? Do you need to buy for a “Pulp Fiction” fan? Why not pick up a Samuel L. Jackson gnome?
Brick by brick Lego has become one of the most popular toys in the world. With $4 billion in sales the “monster” brand’s snap together blocks are responsible for more building than Frank Gehry.
“A LEGO Brickumentary,” a new film narrated by Jason Bateman, takes us beyond the playroom and into the realm of the AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) population and artist Nathan Sawaya who says he spends upwards of $100,000 annually on LEGO parts. We also meet the designers who create new Lego sets and a psychologist who uses the bricks to help autistic kids.
We’re shown a whole subculture where people use Lego lingo like “minifig”—they’re the small plastic articulated yellow brick figurines—and “B.U.R.P.”—that’s a Big Ugly Rock Piece—and attend conventions to trade pieces and show off their creations.
The upbeat movie—it occasionally it feels more like a corporate video or DVD extra for “The Lego Movie” than it does a doc—may err on the side of being a bit too brand friendly, but it does a good job of showing how ubiquitous the building blocks are. “There are 100 LEGO pieces for every person on the planet,” we’re told. Too bad it doesn’t provide any deep insight as to why the Danish toy is so popular other than the often cited fuel for creativity, or, as one conventioneer puts it, “It’s just fun.” Singer, and Lego enthusiast Ed Sheeran chimes in, “It’s good not to take life too seriously.”
Perhaps so Ed, but while directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge clearly have a passion for the subject, a little more insight might have made this a better movie.
While there may be over 900,000,000 ways to fit these blocks together, exercise creativity and have fun “A LEGO Brickumentary” isn’t nearly as inventive as its subject.
“The Lego Movie” is possibly the weirdest, most psychedelic kid’s entertainment since “H.R. Pufnstuf.”
Released by a big corporation—Warner Bros—and based on one of the world’s most popular toys, it manages to feel as though a kid who threw away his Lego kit’s instructions and snapped the blocks together in random, fun ways made it.
When we arrive at the Lego universe it is ruled by the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a tyrant obsessed with perfection and conformity. In his world the radio pumps out perfect pop sings like “Everything is Awesome,” and a group of robotic “micro-managers” ensures that everything is just so.
To guarantee the world he has created from interlocking bricks stays just the way he wants it, he has a plan to spray the entire thing—Lego people and all—with Kraggle, a super glue that will permanently paste everything it touches into Lord Business’s idea of excellence.
When Emmet (Chris Pratt), a Lego figure who was invisible in life, stumbles across the “piece of resistance” he becomes The Special, the greatest Master Builder in the universe, jopining a group that includes Batman (Will Arnett), a pirate named Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) and Green Lantern (Jonah Hill).
With the help of the Master Builders, a loopy wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) a tough young woman with a sensitive side, Emmet must break free of the chains of conformity and defeat Lord Business.
The first thing you notice about “The Lego Movie” is the look. It’s computer-animated but looks like stop-motion. The film’s handmade composition isn’t slick, but it is playful, which is a perfect compliment to its Lego origins. (It should be noted, however, that the movie in no way plays like a commercial for the toys.) From the crude Lego flames to the awkward way the characters move, the movie is completely consistent in its vision of a Lego world.
The second thing you’ll notice is how off the wall the story is. It’s not just off-the-wall, it’s off-the-planet. Directors and co-writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have taken the movie’s credo of battling against conformity to heart and made a big budget studio movie that bends all the rules. At its heart it’s a simple hero journey, a primal story about good against evil, but frenetic storytelling and inventive twists in almost every scene add a richness that belies its humble toy story origins.
It may be a bit too hectic at times—blame video game influence for that—and a titch too long for little ones with short attention spans, but the overriding message of dancing to your own beat combined with an unexpected and touching live-action section make “The Lego Movie” far more than an exercise in nostalgia for parents who grew up creating worlds from little plastic blocks or a way to sell more toys to a new audience. Instead it’s a wildly entertaining movie that uses the toys as a muse, and does what the toys have always done, light imaginations on fire.
What movie fan wouldn’t love to get their own theatre for Christmas? OK, so maybe it’s only 15 inches tall–not quite big enough for a red carpet launch–but it comes complete with movie stars! limousines! and even paparazzi LEGO figurines!
From shop.lego.com: Build a grand premiere at the Palace Cinema!
It’s premiere night at the Palace Cinema! Illuminate the night sky with the spotlights as the child star arrives in a fancy black limousine! Gather the crowd on the star-studded sidewalk, then head into the detailed lobby with a concession stand and ticket area! Take the grand staircase into the theater with a large screen, movie projector and reclining chairs for 6 minifigures. Introducing the latest addition to the LEGO® Modular Buildings series, the highly detailed, 2-story Palace Cinema corner building. This collectible model features a sidewalk of the stars, brick-built entrance doors, posters, sign frontage, a tower with spires and rooftop decorations. Includes 6 minifigures: child actress, chauffeur, female guest, male guest, photographer and cinema worker.
Includes 6 minifigures: child star, chauffeur, female guest, male guest, photographer and cinema worker
Features brick-built entrance doors, posters, sign frontage, tower with spires and rooftop decoration, lobby, concession stand, ticket area, staircase, big screen, projector and reclining seats for 6 minifigures
Vehicles include classic-style limousine
Hard-to-find elements include a red baseplate and dark tan, dark red, and gold pieces
Seat a 6-minifigure audience in the reclining seats!
Play on the star-studded sidewalk, in the detailed lobby or in the big-screen theatre!
Palace Cinema measures 15″ (38cm) high, 10″ (25.5cm) wide, and 10″ (25.5cm) deep