Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The LEGO Movie: Happiness and Success: Instructions Not Included

Unikitty is #1's favorite character

WHAT: Review of The LEGO MOVIE
DIRECTED BY and SCREENPLAY: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
STORY BY: Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord and Chris Miller

INVEST:  Available in 3D $$ or 2D $
PG: Mild Violence and Rude Humor (Batman is the rudest- love Will Arnett).  The storyline may be hard to follow for kids under 5 years of age.
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself, Birthday/Holiday Build-Uponner, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: (Exclusive LEGO Toy from our Goody Bag x 3) + the LEGO Movie Junior Novel (I saved three for one lucky winner!)

Do you watch movies in theatres anymore?  I rarely do. Isn't it crazy expensive nowadays? Especially the 3D?  Still, the Toys Are Tools family was given tickets to an advanced screening to the LEGO movie and despite my concerns that #1 and #2 would end up like lunatics bouncing about until 2 am on a school night, we decided to go.  

I wonder if all kid-movie advanced screenings come with play tables like this. Kids loved it. My son found a gold dome among a sea of bricks and was thrilled.
Did you ever just buy one as a surprise? For $3 at the LEGO store, you can get your kid to feel for the parts. It could take 20 minutes to find the one you want but I love this exercise!

If you are like me, you might say, let's wait for it to come on Netflix or "Let's go buy a LEGO Movie set with the money instead." Seriously, with ticket admission for the four of us, I could buy either of the two most expensive LEGO movie kits available (Lord Business' Evil Lair or Rescue Reinforements).  But since I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening, I have to tell you this... Don't be like that this time.  Go see the movie... in the theater... it's worth it.  I only saw it in 3D so I can't compare the non-3D experience but the graphics alone make it worthwhile for a theater ticket.

I wish it wasn't so dark in this theater.  I just love this picture! He hates movies but he wouldn't have missed this one for anything.
As you can see, the world depicted in the movie is entirely made of LEGO bricks.
I do want to say one thing though... This is the first movie review I've ever written so the only thing I'll be focusing on here is: What Do Parents Want to Know About This Movie?  I'm not sure... So I'll break it down into sections.  Skip the section if it doesn't apply to you.

Oooh, he's missing a red cup on his "hat."
The action scenes are sooooo fast.  I can barely remember them. It's almost like the movie is designed to be watched more than once.

Is It Scary? How "Mild" is the Violence?

My #2 hates movies.  He gets scared of watching things like The Little Mermaid or Captain America There are suspenseful moments but nothing over the top.  There is an ample amount of fight scenes but no blood. The characters move very fast and so if anything, it doesn't leave much of a violent residual image.

There are explosions but strangely, because everything in the movie actually looks like the LEGO toys that we all play with today, nothing looks too "dramatic" or "graphic."  Which brings me to another parent question.

My kids were soooooo curious about this thing on Emmet's back.
Metalbeard (right) fights a micromanager (black robot on left).  It's funny how undescribable the micromanager is...
Oh, I love Unikitty!

Will I (the grown-up) Be Totally Bored?

Both my husband and I are LEGO fans but still, kids' stuff is kids' stuff. However, I found the dialogue to be good enough for grown-ups while still maintaining its PG rating- that's quite a skill!  With words like "Micro-Managers" as names for the robots who work for Lord Business, I was just hooked. It was written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller who had also written and directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street.   I haven't seen 21 Jump Street but can't wait to see it now. But I have seen the Cloudy movie and I loved it.  It takes a lot of creativity to make a whole movie out of that book.  You could go so wrong because it's so open-ended and with LEGOs, it's the same, there aren't any borders with talking about LEGO, (except maybe licensing ones) so I must salute these two gentleman.

You know me... I was hanging out by the product table... looking at all the things your kids will be demanding of you soon.
I like the sketchbook.  I like all sketchbooks actually.
I couldn't open this one...  wish I could have... looks interesting!

Will This Movie Make Me End Up Buying More LEGOs?

I guess it depends on your own family habits but this movie can definitely provide you with the tools to break some bad habits. There are a lot of great messages here that parents can use to talk about any type of toy play. All these messages are told by LEGO minifigures that walk the walk... they really do.

In fact, I was sort of surprised that LEGO even allowed this movie to be made.  I mean, without giving it away but the story is about how an evil lord is taking over the world by making everyone follow the instructions.  In the movie, the "instructions" kind of look like the instructions that come with just about every LEGO set (non-open-ended set).  Are they shooting themselves in the foot here? LEGO sets have plenty of instructions.

There it is. Things that they will ask you for.... Things you'll just want to buy... lunchboxes.. watches... pencils.... sticker books..

Emphasize LEGO Play Without Directions

Like with all great works of art, they walk that fine line between showing the ugly with the good.  The ugly, you might consider as how some children end up playing with LEGO -  Buy, Build, Buy, Build, and repeat.... but never create or even improvise upon an existing build. The good might be what critics say should be done with LEGO, that is, buy, build, create, build, maybe buy again, build, create, rebuild, combine with other things, repeat but emphasize creativity.

Everyone tells me that LEGO should not be about licensed characters and that directions should be just thrown out altogether.  I understand that logic, but there is a part of me that says that I need a little of the commercial sass to get my kids more interested in building or whatever ideal LEGO might be promoting...  (Right now, I'm using the LEGO novel to get my kids more into reading and soon writing... thank you Barb for the suggestion as painful as this might become)

Why do I love Cloud Cuckoo Land so much.  It's one place I don't understand at all.

How do you tell two young boys to NOT tell their friends about the ending. I think my little one won't mention it at all because it's "Screen Free Week" and my eldest told his friends he was going to the screening but none of them believed him.  You would have thought that he'd take something from his goody bag to school this morning but he did not.  Regardless of all the hoo-ha, I think they were all grateful.

Who Doesn't Want to Be Special?

I really identify with this character Emmet who kind of reminds me of someone who might be described as having high-functioning autism.  Emmet, the main character, is a rigid rule-loving single man with social communication challenges.  He has a very poor ability to take the perspective of others, especially at how others see him.

He gets an opportunity to see himself from someone else's point of view and he realizes that he's not very special at all. And heck, his creativity/building skills leave a lot to be desired.  He might have been the kind of kid that buys LEGO sets, builds them, and will snap at anyone who disturbs "the order" of things.

I actually know someone like this.  I won't name names but let's just say he saw the movie with me and I was soooooooooooooo glad he did.  The movie applauds the Master Builders, who have vision, see what is available, and then make something out of it - all without any directions - basically creativity.  You will love how the movie creators define "Master Builder" even Abraham Lincoln is a Master Builder.  I love how the creators went beyond the known characters of LEGO sets like that. It's just the kind of thing I want my kid to see and think... "yeah, he totally is a Master Builder."

He insisted on building after the movie and in the morning.
Part of the exclusive product given to us in the goodie bag. The red piece and one white piece and bad cop (at right) are not included) An ice cream piece is not shown here as it is tucked safely away in wherever #1 keeps his "food pieces."

So You Think You Can Build?

But the Master Builders are not so perfect either as we learn.  So many of them are wildly creative but lack cooperative skills which to me is the foundation for leadership skills.  A scene in the movie actually demonstrated a final product built by Master Builders in a cooperative effort.  That scene could be the basis of an essay contest or a session with a child psychologist. It's a very good lesson to teach our more creative or gifted/talented kids.  You can't be truly great until you understand how your contributions can fit into the lives of others.

For all these fine messages that were told in unbelievable images, most of which happened so fast that I can't even remember half of them, I am quite certain that this reluctant movie goer will enthusiastically take her children to see this movie again.  If you wait for the video, I can understand it but really, the visuals alone are awesome.  In fact, as the theme song repeats until we're all blue in the face.....  "Everything is Awesome!"  It really really is.

And now try to win something I saved just for you.

My kids wanted to keep them but I only let them have one each.  I ended up with three extra and so I'll ship this and the junior novel to one winner!  I know it's not a big thing but since they are rare, I figure they'll be a little "special" to your special one.  Sometimes I see someone selling them on Amazon for as much as $30 but I think that is not a great price for this small item.  Anyway, the winner can have all three of them and three activity books too! It's thin. The goody bag came with a couple of posters but I can't send those.. Hope you understand.
This toy basically just includes one tiny pink car and one tiny green car.  Vitriuvius is not included.  But there are two different ways to make each little car.  It's very cute.   Inside the packet is also a keychain (lenticular) and a few stickers.
144 pages.  According to the Scholastic website, the suggested grades are 3-6 but my 7 year old enjoys me reading it to him so.... it's up to you.  If you win and need an easier book, I'll try my best

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win!
educational toy, best educational game, best educational toy, learning tools, toys for learning, toys are tools, child development, therapeutic toys, special needs toys, gifted children toys, games for gifted kids, 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you are a jungle shopper then here are the links to support Toys Are Tools!  Thanks in advance. 

If you make a purchase through my links here to go to, then you'll also be supporting Toys Are Tools.  If you are ever concerned about what is the MSRP, this is the website to check.

Cloud Cuckoo Palace $19.99

Ice Cream Machine $29.99

Lord Business' Evil Lair $69.99

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. 



  1. Yes! They can help with fine motor skills, definitely! Also sorting, colors, math, etc! Teaching patience is awesome as well!

  2. I think that the Lego Movie can teach kids how to design things, it can help them learn what it takes to build something like a house, or a building. We can ask them questions about hoe important the foundation of anything is.