Brickumentary is both interesting and informative as well as being fun.
In 2014, The LEGO Movie’s bizarre CGI world somehow created a metafictional and fun film without ever crossing over into the territory of an overlong commercial. In 2015, there is A LEGO Brickumentary hosted in a rather in-person, Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” sort of way by another CGI-animated Lego action figure, voiced by popular actor Jason Bateman. This time we are not catapulted into a strange toy universe but are instead brought through the evolution of the real Lego toys in the real world, from the inception of the brick to the escalating popularity of the toys. Naturally, this also pushes us heavily into the realm of the vast fandom that follows this (mostly) unique toy with its unique licensing and simplified characters. It doesn’t stop there either.
Brickumentary actually delves deeply into the world of what individual pieces are the rarest and even details the various levels of geek fandom that these same geek fans use to term themselves.
Naturally, this documentary pushes close to becoming an advertisement of a toy, but it stops just short. To be sure, this isn’t a balanced documentary that explores alternate and similar toys, nor does Brickumentary cast Lego or its fans into any light but the most positive. While there are similar building blocks—even of the interlocking variety—when it comes to versatility, devotion and licensing, there is nothing quite like the Lego brick or the company that spawned it.
Brickumentary, as directed by Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge, tells a detailed story of the many attempts of Lego’s creator, Ole Kirk Christiansen, to invent a memorable toy before formulating an icon almost by accident. While never hiding the admiration and reverence for this building block,Brickumentary’s writers and directors trace the international success of the toy by using interviews with both insiders and consumers, as well as convention-goers and even celebrities who have gone mad for the automatic binding blocks.
Of course, Lego has gone much farther than being just a block. From the licensed playsets of Star Wars and Harry Potter to the video games and movies that feature Batman and other noteworthy characters, Brickumentary covers it all in interesting detail. And that, above all, is the point.
Brickumentary is both interesting and informative as well as being fun. There may be no “other side” to this documentary, but it does, indeed, give great depth to the toy, its inception and evolution. It also manages, quite successfully, to never, ever be boring. Even diehard fans of the bricks will find something new to learn. Nor does the “other” Lego film get the short straw here. Behind-the-scenes details and groovy clips from The LEGO Movie are celebrated.
Then again, it is mostly the brick itself that is held up on a pedestal here, and rightly so. The documentary details how much can be done with only the bricks themselves as well as the accessories that are specific to the playsets. Inventors are even displayed showing off (and attempting to sell) new accessories to make Legos do fascinating new things.
There may always be those who criticize films like this as just another long-form advertisement for a product. And sure, to be fair, watching this one I even felt like breaking out the old shoebox I was given back in 1978 or so and creating a spacy new car with the blocks and wheels I have had for so long. But there is much more to this documentary than a promotion. The film is funny, informative, well-animated and thorough. After all, this is not simply a documentary about a brick, but a documentary about an unexpected phenomenon, decades in the making, that has yet to slow down. There is only one Lego.