I love LEGOs. I’d actually wager a bet that anyone who has ever clasped one of the miniature bricks on top of its brethren harbors the same feelings that I have for the contagiously joyous toy.
That youthful enthusiasm for LEGO - which I admittedly haven’t taken advantage on for decades, but predict will return as soon as I lay eyes on an opened box - doesn’t mean that I am at all interested in where the product came from, though. I might be interested if the story of how LEGO came to be was actually interesting. But it’s not. It’s painfully dull. And that is why A LEGO Brickumentary is ultimately a horrible way to spend an hour and a half of your life.
It’s clear from the get-go that directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge put a lot of time, care, and craft into creating A LEGO Brickumentary, which is what makes its failure that much harder to stomach. There’s an ambitious opening that reveals there are LEGO pieces on the moon before an explanation for how and why they got there is teased. But by the time that explanation eventually arrives in the final five minutes of the film, you’ll have fallen into such a deranged state of boredom that you simply won’t care. In fact, you’ll have probably already made plans to disown all of your LEGO pieces and have pledged your allegiance to Playmobil.
The problem is, A LEGO Brickumentary is almost too well crafted, to such an extent that it’s lifeless and stagnant from the get-go. Of course there is the obligatory, but all too brief, parade of celebrity interviews with LEGO die-hards, which includes South Park co-creator Trey Parker, NBA star Dwight Howard, and the loveable singing cherub Ed Sheeran.
This is then followed by a brief animated history of LEGO, before we are introduced to the company’s current executives; followed by fans who spend every single spare moment of their day creating stunningly impressive models in a variety of different ways. None of this is presented in a compelling fashion, though. It’s just too formulaic, and it leaves the doc plodding along as the cinematic equivalent of paint drying.
Then there’s also the compulsory trip to an event that proves just how popular the toys are with a wide-array of people, giving audiences a glimpse at how the fans interact. This includes the reveal of a hoard of acronyms that fanatics use for certain LEGO users and pieces, and even a creepy code for how they point out hot girls at conventions. Seriously.
Despite this brief flirtation with creepiness, you can’t help but be impressed by the staggering efforts of conventional LEGO users. But the constant force-feeding of just how fun, important and thrilling LEGO can be gets tiresome very quickly. It also doesn’t help that - God bless each and every one of them - the people being interviewed are about as riveting as a stationary LEGO piece in an empty room with the light off.
Let’s talk about Jason Bateman’s horrible narration. Like LEGO, we all love Jason Bateman. How can you not? But even his most fervent fan will convulse with agony hearing Bateman lamely and awkwardly trying to liven up the film with quips and jokes that you could easily mistake for the work of The Simpsons’ Troy McClure. It really is that bad. In fact, you can almost picture the cloud of guilt hanging over the actor as he cashed his paycheck for his involvement.
Meanwhile, the amount of blatant product placement for specific LEGO toys leaves you with the feeling that A LEGO Brickumentary is simply an hour and a half advertisement masked as an informative documentary. Which, of course, it is. And because of the success of The LEGO Movie, LEGO always was likely to try and pounce upon their newfound popularity in every possible fashion. But with A LEGO Brickumentary, they’ve done so in a hideously dull and brazenly exploitative way.
Which is a shame. Because LEGO means so much to so many people. But its ultimate failure can be summed up by a Patton Oswalt skit about the over-explanation of things he loves, which he ends with: “I don’t give a shit where the stuff I love comes from. I just love the stuff I love.”
Basically: don’t waste your time with A LEGO Brickumentary. Just spend it playing with the pieces you love instead.