Before The LEGO Movie actually came out, there was a certain feeling that it was nothing more than a feature-length commercial for LEGOs. While it was a feature-length commercial for LEGOs, that film ended up being far more than just that. The idea is more applicable, though, to A LEGO Brickumentary, which is a quasi-companion piece to the earlier film. If The LEGO Movie was about entertainment, A LEGO Brickumentary is the semi-educational look at the real-life world surrounding the little bricks.
A LEGO Brickumentary‘s largest diversion from its predecessor – aside from, of course, the actual film format – is the time spent with adults. The film focuses primarily on the adults who are part of the LEGO world, from company employees to celebrity fans like Ed Sheeran and South Park‘s Trey Parker, all the way to a group of fans who call themselves AFOLs, or Adult Fans of LEGOs. It’s an interesting method, and it pushes the film beyond looking at LEGO and its many licensed creations into fan-produced sets and pieces that are created by third parties.
These moments dominate the film, which is a bit unfortunate. Some of the film’s more interesting moments come from the telling of LEGO’s history, told through LEGO-based animation. (That LEGO-based animation also covers many of narrator Jason Bateman’s moments in the film, with Bateman shown as an animated mini-figure.) Over the course of the film, LEGO’s origins as a small Danish country that survived multiple factory fires move to a successful brand that still almost collapsed in the early part of the 21st century, before managing a comeback that continues today. More time could – and should – have been spent on this particular issue. Instead, the film briefly addresses what LEGO believes to be their problem at the time – too many custom pieces, too few overall pieces – and how they solved it: by stopping, and switching to licensed sets.
The lack of time spent on this issue is endemic of the film’s largest problem: it offers up a load of points of interest, from fan-made “brick films” to usage in therapy for autistic kids. Instead, the film tries to somehow tie all these parts together at the end. The resulting moment, where an autistic kid gets to see a giant X-wing that was shown towards the beginning of the film, is…nice. But it lacks the heft that the filmmakers want to afford it. It doesn’t make A LEGO Brickumentary a bad project, but it’s more worthy of a TV run than a documentary aimed at theatrical viewing.