It used to be that when a family-friendly movie was released, a toy tie-in came with it. Any Star Wars-related doodads in your house? Maybe a Harry Potter wand or action figure in a drawer somewhere?
Now product placement and tie-ins are moving to the next level. Toys and games are becoming movies.
THE LEGO MOVIE debuted this week, starring LEGO characters.
It’s the latest in a trend that already includes Transformers, G.I.Joe and Battleship as films. And other toy-based features in the works include Ouija, Monopoly and Candy Land.
The idea is to make movies out of brands that consumers already know and love. The fan base is certainly there for LEGO toys, as evidenced by the nearly $70 million the movie took in at the box office on opening weekend. It also helped that the film got good reviews to help get parents into the theaters.
One of the best aspects of THE LEGO MOVIE is that it doesn’t take its own blatant product placement too seriously, even making tongue-in-cheek references to LEGOS. The bad guy is “President Business” and he rules the world while also planning to wipe it out. An ordinary LEGO construction worker is mistaken for a Master Builder and must save the world.
While some of the film borders on being a little too frenetic and wild at times, that fast pace works for 3D and will likely keep kids glued to the screen.
My favorite part of the film was the end when the tale turned from LEGO characters trying to save the world, to live action, with dad Will Ferrell bonding with his son, played by Jadon Sand, over an amazing LEGO city in the basement.
That’s where the messages of the film are really driven home: Be creative. Dare to build something different even if it might not seem all that amazing at the time. Think beyond the instructions that come with the LEGO box. And, don’t Krazy Glue the LEGOS! They’re not meant to be permanent untouchable pieces of art.
So is this a 100-minute commercial for LEGO? Of course it is. But it’s also an entertaining ride filled with satire and sweetness. You’ll likely come out of the movie wanting to build something with your child. But you don’t have to opt for one of the 17 new movie tie-in LEGO sets with 16 new characters. You could even maybe use your old Tinker Toys.