Thinly Veiled Lego Propaganda

FILM by by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

A Lego Brickumentary
Rainbow (Coming Soon)
2 out of 5

The unexpected success of The Lego Movie last year brought the popular toy back to the popular consciousness. Now, the Danish company wants to capitalize on the windfall with a heavily slanted doc about the plastic brick industry.

An all-encompassing look at the different aspects of the Lego craze (history, production, practical and artistic use), the documentary is consistently shallow in the treatment of each. This doesn’t make it boring: created by a toymaker tired of seeing his factory go up in flames (happened three times), the interlocking plastic bricks were a hit almost immediately.

The success has led to the emergence of subcultures all around the Western world: The Adult Fans of Lego, the driving force behind Lego conventions; sculptors using tiny pieces as clay; mathematicians trying to figure out the number of combinations a couple of bricks allow; autistic children who find Lego easier to relate to than other toys. There’s a whole universe of animated movies made out of Lego, from action flicks to adult entertainment, painstakingly crafted by obsessive enthusiasts.

A Lego Brickumentary glosses over the most controversial moment of its corporate history: In the mid ’90s, sales went down due to an excessive focus on custom pieces, in detriment of the standard construction bricks. The lesson became Lego’s mandate: the process is as important as the outcome.

Other thorny subjects that are merely hinted at — such as the American entrepreneur who builds weapons for Lego, since the company refuses to.

Then again, I doubt Lego has a dark side waiting to be uncovered (the bricks are produced in state-of-the-art facilities, not sweatshops).

Unless that dark side is this thinly veiled PR flick, which makes me look at a great toy less fondly, not more.

2015-08-06