Why The LEGO Movie Deserves An Oscar Nomination For Best Animated Film

With the Academy Awards just around the corner, there will be one blatant omission from the animated movie category:  The LEGO Movie.  The film does not need an Oscar nomination, as it did phenomenally well at the box office, becoming one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time.  The directors are pretty clear that they are not looking for any Academy Award accolades, especially when they can build their own.

The question though is whether or not The LEGO Movie deserved a nomination for best animated film?  The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ and here are the reasons why:

Production Value: One of The Most Detailed Animated Movies Ever Created

The LEGO Movie was one of the most complex and ambitious animated movies ever produced. According to Business Insider, “there were a total of 3,863,484 unique Lego bricks in the movie…if you wanted to recreate the entire movie, you would need 15,080,330 Lego pieces.”  No other animated movie has had to base their animation on over 3 million toy pieces before.

Also, the 3-minute stop animation ending credits took 50 people over a year to make using 60,000 pieces of LEGO.  This may be one of the most painstakingly detailed ending credits of all time.  See it for yourself.

These two animated achievements alone deserve recognition by The Academy.

Story Line: A Multi-layered Story That Challenges Societal Norms

Now ignore the production value and focus on the strength of the story.  On the surface, The LEGO Movie has a cliche storyline.  An ordinary individual, Emmet, is chosen to save the world.

If you look past that though, the are many complex layers underneath it.  A critique of American mass culture, an introduction to a burning man type society (an unambiguous nod to Aristophanes’ satirical play “The Birds,” written about 2,400 years ago, which included a chaotic realm called Cloud Cuckoo Land).  And even a 2nd Inception type level of the story where you find a LEGO Hobbyist father, obsessed with keeping his LEGO perfect with the help of Kragle Crazy Glue and his son, who just wants to create fun worlds with LEGO.  The two of them determine the outcome of the main LEGO characters through their own process of play.

That’s quite a few layers for a film simply called The LEGO Movie.  Based on that title, the writers could have easily cooked up a weak plot to only appease kids so that they could sell more LEGO. Instead, they created a complex enough story line to cause a political debate which the New Yorker, Fox News, and the Economist covered.  Here is an excerpt from the Economist about the filmYou can make what you like of “The Lego Movie”, but your correspondent found its message to be pleasingly libertarian: suspicious of top-down power and supportive of individual rights (such as the right of Lego people not to spend eternity in the position Lord Business deems correct). Its target is dull conformity. “Take everything weird and blow it up!

When was the last time an animated movie stirred up this level of debate?

Competition: More Ambitious Goals Than Their Nominated Counterparts

If you still are not convinced, take a look at the animated movies nominated this year: Big Hero 6, Song of the Sea, The Boxtrolls, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and How to Train Your Dragon 2. There are some strong animated movies here that undoubtedly deserve an Oscar nomination.  Big Hero Six is a great heartfelt, tear-jerking story.  The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, from the legendary Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, produced many other amazing animated films.  The other nominees are also strong films.

However, they did not take on the challenges that The LEGO Movie chose to do. From recreating an entire movie out of LEGO to attempting to address the ills of our economic and political system, all while also being extremely witty and entertaining.  The other movies also did not have a demanding fan base, the way the LEGO community has. There are the fanatic LEGO kids, the tweens/teenagers of First LEGO League, as well as the adult fans of LEGO, and everyone in between.  Those are drastically different populations to please and the producers were able to ride that fine line extremely well.

Even the critics agreed.  The LEGO Movie is one of the highest rated animated movies ever on Rotten Tomatoes, beating out all of this year’s Oscar nominated animated films.  One year after its release, critics still consider it a ground-breaking movie.

Impact: Children Are Inspired To Build More

Now if all of those reasons are not enough, the one that resonates most with us is that The LEGO Movie inspired our youngest LEGO enthusiasts.  Every good movie is inspirational in some way, but how many films compel kids to go home and start immediately creating?  In our classes, a year later, our LEGO engineers are still referencing that movie as they build their creations.

"I know what you are thinking. He is the least qualified person to lead us. And you are right!"  The LEGO Movie

Scene built by our engineering students

Some of these kids may end up becoming our future engineers, scientists, and next great innovators, shaping the world the way the LEGO Master Builders do in this movie.  And they may in fact reference of all things an animated film about LEGO, as one of their inspirations. Name an Oscar nominated movie this year that has the potential to make a similar impact.

If you watch any great Oscars acceptance speech, it’s about being inspired to pursue some impossible, irrational dream?  The LEGO Movie achieved their impossible goal of creating a complex enough movie that critiques American mass culture, captures the zeitgeist of the LEGO world, all while inspiring the next generation of creators.  Because of this, it should be recognized as one of the best animated films of the year.  Luckily for The Academy, they’ll have a second chance when The LEGO Movie 2 is released.  The consolation prize of having their subversive “Everything Is Awesome” song nominated for best song is simply not enough, even if it is a catchy song.

Why is it important to introduce engineering to children at a young age?

Natural Engineers
We love to introduce kids to engineering using LEGO.  We feel honored to teach over 90,000 kids a year about engineering.  So this year, as part of our Spring Raffle, we decided to ask the question:

Why do you believe it is important to introduce engineering to children at a young age?

By participating, you could win a Play-Well Engineering with LEGO Birthday Party, a custom-made LEGO Bow Tie, or a LEGO Motor Kit.  Simply follow the instructors below to enter.  We will pick a few winners at random and share all of the great answers to this question.  Sign up on Facebook here: http://bit.ly/WhyisEngineeringImportantToTeachToKids or here: Play-Well End of The School Year Giveaway.

We hope you can join us for our Play-Well Engineering with LEGO Camps this summer.  You can find a location near you HERE.

Principal walks across a LEGO Bridge built by his students

We love when the principals get involved. Principal Morris of Pleasant Hill Elementary walked across a LEGO Bridge built by his students.

This bridge was approximately 21 ft. long and built by a 3rd grade class at Pleasant Hill Elementary.

This bridge was approximately 21 ft. long and built by a 3rd grade class at Pleasant Hill Elementary.

If you’d like us to provide an in-school field trip for your classroom, simply click here or email info@play-well.org.

 

 

 

Playing Well At Accenture, Oracle, and K12

At Accenture, we were asked us to show some of the employees’ children what it would be like to be a engineering consultant.  We provided these future consultants an engineering dilemma, various mechanisms to figure it out, and let them break up in teams and go to work.  The results were these mini-engineering consultants came up with a brand new invention.  A vehicle that could traverse across three separate types of terrain, ground, rail, and air.

The challenge was creating a vehicle that could traverse over three terrains. Ground, track, and through the air. These young engineering consultants accomplished their task in less than 1.5 hours.

These future engineering consultants accomplished their task in less than 1.5 hours.

Oracle 2

We provide a interactive LEGO area for kids during Oracle Kid’s Day. Kids built motorized LEGO projects, as well as architectural ones.

Many engineers brought their kids to the National Building Museum for our LEGO architecture workshop. There, we built a 21ft. tall tower with students, while showing them basic building techniques we use in our architectural projects.

At K12.com‘s Bring Your Kids To Work Day this year, students built a 10ft Tall LEGO Tower. Then, we tested it.

 

 

PRESS ADVISORY: Creating a safe space for kids with LEGO

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WHEN: SATURDAY, APRIL 5TH, 10 AM – 12 PM

WHERE: Seven Trees Community Center – Address: 3590 Cas Dr, San Jose, CA 95111

WHY:  With the recent shooting of young father Eric Mendoza of East San Jose, who simply was moving his car for street sweeping, violent crime in East San Jose has become a major issue.  People increasingly feel that it is unsafe for kids to be out on the street.  A local resident, Peter Jung, created a community based program called the Guiding Light Project, whose goal is to provide a safe space for kids in East San Jose to get their homework done and be able to play. The Guiding Light Project is now partnering with Play-Well Outreach this Saturday to provide an Engineering with LEGO workshop for kids in East San Jose.  It is completely free for them and they get the opportunity to play with over 20,000 pieces of LEGO and just be kids.  Over 60 kids from around East San Jose are expected to attend.  The goals are simple: provide a safe space for these kids to play, learn about engineering, and have families still connect as a community.

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For more information about the event, Ripple Leung at (408) 794-1690 or at rippleleung@gmail.com.

Brunch & Build With Our Recreation Coordinators

This past February, we invited Northern California Parks & Recreation Departments, YMCA’s, and JCC coordinators that we partner with to our Play Well Pleasanton Activity Center for our first ever Brunch & Build.  This was an opportunity for recreation coordinators to have brunch with our Play-Well Staff, learn more about our Engineering with LEGO programs, and most importantly, have fun building with LEGO.  When can you say that for a meeting, you got to play with LEGO?  Here is what we were able to accomplish.

Recreation coordinators starting the process of building the parthenon.

Recreation coordinators starting the process of building the Roman Coliseum.

Coordinators got to meet each other and our staff and discuss ways to help improve our programs.

Coordinators got to meet each other and our staff and discuss ways to help improve our programs.

We will were able to provide curriculum guides to help communicate all the programs we are offering.

We provided curriculum guides with detailed information about the programs we are offering.

And then we got to building.  The theme was a trip through Europe, starting with the Eiffel Tower.

And then we got to building. The theme was a trip through Europe, starting with the Eiffel Tower.

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We started building the Edinburgh Castle.

We started building the Edinburgh Castle.

The Eiffel tower took less than 30 minutes to build.

The Eiffel tower took less than 30 minutes to build.

The final version of The Edinburgh Castle was quite impressive.

The final version of The Edinburgh Castle was quite impressive.

Here were the final results.  The Eiffel Tower, the Roman Coliseum, the Edinburgh Castle, and of course a train that runs through it all.  Thanks everyone for coming and building!

Here were the final results. The Eiffel Tower, the Roman Coliseum, the Edinburgh Castle, and of course a train that runs through it all. Thanks everyone for coming and building!

We want to thank all of the recreation coordinators who participated in this fun event. If you’d like us to offer a Brunch and Build for your recreation facility, or would like us to host a program near you, simply click here.

Play-Well Featured on Paris News Station

With the release of the LEGO Movie in France, a local Paris News Station visited one of our Engineering with LEGO Classes. Our awesome Paris Manager, EJ Keller, talked about what our students can accomplish with a huge amount of LEGO and what can be accomplished when you work as a team. For more information on our programs in France, visit: http://www.play-well.org/france/.

For more information about our program in the Unitied States, visit www.play-well.org.

 

Want To Help This Child Fulfill His LEGO Dream?

We came across this amazing, passionate LEGO Builder, Bjarney Ludviksdottir. Bjarney is a child from Iceland. He has a dream of building a 6 meter LEGO scale model of his favorite ship, the Titanic.  Like a true engineer, he has done all of the measurements and come up with the schematics to build the ship, using a LEGO mini-figure to determine the scale.  He created a video to ask LEGO if he could build his model at their LEGO Factory in Denmark.

We can help Bjarney achieve his dream by simply watching this video, sharing it with our friends and family, and tagging #LEGO in it.  Please help us spread the word.  Thanks!