By now the premise of proposing Hollywood projects based on unlikely toys has become something of a self-parodying meme, as the development deals granted to companies like Hasbro have pretty much guaranteed that all the increasingly id-driven studio executives will never stop raiding the corners of their inner child’s musty old toy chests until I Want My Binky: The Movie finds its way onto the screen, and everybody finally feels safe and warm and stops worrying about the economy or what the fuck ever.
Recently, upon the not-at-all-surprising-in-retrospect announcement that the thrilling, looking-at-photos technology of the View-Master was being adapted into a motion picture by some cinematic daredevil, we bitterly joked in this very column that it wouldn’t be long before we were looking down the tin barrel of a Tinkertoy film, perhaps starring Jim Carrey as a madcap architect whose whimsical visions for a skyscraper built entirely out of wooden spools and rainbow-colored sticks is scoffed at by evil real estate developers, but who nevertheless captures the imaginations of a city—as well as the hearts of one jaded-but-resilient single mom and her adorably precocious kid. It practically writes itself—which is great, because any self-respecting screenwriter who would be handed a box of Tinkertoys and told to “make us a tentpole” would most likely be found dead come morning with tiny plastic flags jutting from his savaged eyeholes.
Unfortunately, whoever is in charge of stealing movie ideas from the knee-jerk sarcastic rants of tiresome, no-name bloggers will now have to adapt that project to include chunky plastic blocks instead, as today comes the news that a movie based on Lego is in the works, finally answering the question, “How inherently dull and far removed from any semblance of an actual storyline does a property have to be before it’s officially outside the realm of possibility for a ‘movie version’?” (The answer: It depends. How much money are we talking?) According to The Hollywood Reporter:
The live action/CG hybrid is described as a movie set in the world of Lego that centers on the subject of childlike imaginations and examines themes of creativity and teamwork in the manner of Toy Story. While the pic will have elements for children, the studio is hoping the film is a four-quadrant play that can also appeal to adults.
For those unfamiliar with the lingo, a “four-quadrant play” is a film that appeals to all the major demographics—young and old, male and female—and it’s far and away the most coveted of scripts precisely because it’s the most impossible to pull off—particularly when your film is sourced on a plastic building block and a race of people cursed with Cs for hands. Unless said film is, say, an Orwellian metaphor about stifling conformity, or perhaps a Blindness-like drama about a civilization that suddenly finds itself unable to play the piano or dial a phone. But that seems kinda unlikely.
Especially since, when it comes to protecting its brand’s image, Lego has lately proven itself to be oddly humorless and totally no fun at all for a toy company, as seen when it recently forced Spinal Tap to remove from an upcoming concert DVD footage of a popular stop-motion Lego animation set to “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight,” with spokesperson Julie Stern claiming that the “tone wasn’t appropriate for our target audience of kids age 6 to 12.” Clearly someone needs to get the message to Julie Stern that not only is Lego apparently supposed to be about "creativity and teamwork," but the new Lego, like so many other rehashed toy properties, is now appropriate for all ages. Besides, Julie Stern, the more we regress to a state where we can’t dream up original stories without the aid of somebody else’s moldering, prepackaged ideas, the more infantile we become anyway, and the more those numbers on the side of the box cease to matter. Unless you’re making a movie out of the box, of course (It’s a spaceship! It’s a fort! It’s a robot helmet!), which now seems increasingly likely.