Movie Review: Brick Madness
Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 at 4:27pm by Danny, BZPower Reporter
You may have seen Brick Madness in the schedules for some of this year's LEGO conventions. Brick Madness is a very strange film: a mockumentary that seems to mash up the familiar LEGO convention scene with an extremely competitive sports tournament. I was able to catch most of a screening of the film at this year's Brickworld Chicago and have some insights to share below the fold.
Brick Madness is clearly meant as a loving critique of the community, but the in-jokes and biting commentary both include some interesting choices of what to reference. The end result is a film that will probably appeal to different people for different reasons - at a screening, you may be tempted to watch the crowd to see who laughs at which scenes. I expect that opinions will vary pretty widely as to the movie's overall merits. One thing that the film seems to struggle with is establishing it's own authority as an insider in the community it satirizes. Before it can be taken seriously, it needs to establish that it's from our world, and the results on that front feel mixed. Some jokes land ("what the hell is a rainbow warrior?") while others seem to push too far ("how does it feel to be the only woman in the competition?") - and that's before we get into the depiction of an elder champion as living in mom's basement.
The major plot device is the idea of a sports-tournament style competition, in which people compete to be the best builder. While most of the athletic-style fanfare is likely a deserved dig at some of the larger egos in our community, it's enough of a departure from reality to take you out of the film. The aggressive way the movie handles use of the LEGO name is similarly distracting - everything is "bricks" or "brix", with no acknowledgement of brand names at all. Someone from outside of AFOLdom would likely struggle to figure out what the movie's really about. Those details and even the larger plot seem secondary to the more satirical elements of the film.
Elsewhere, the movie seems truer to the scene we know and love. Many shots appear to be filmed on a green screen, with B-roll of BrickCon and Brickworld Chicago inserted into the background to make the actors very realistically look like they're at an AFOL event. You'll likely recognize some of the MOCs as things you've seen at said events in the past. We probably have a few members who make cameos in the background and don't know about it. That's a fun thing to try to look for. In mild stunt casting, The LEGO Movie's Jadon Sand makes an appearance.
Ultimately, my verdict is mixed: the movie definitely has its charms and some of the jokes come across as loving jabs instead of as gags at our expense. Even the ones that are clearly at part of the community's expense are things you'll likely recognize and perhaps want to laugh at. You'll probably enjoy some portion of it, and you probably should see it at some point. I wouldn't say it's worth missing another activity at a busy convention for, though.
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