The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 20, 2014

Model parents: Movie taps into love of Legos shared with children

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Wendy Wolf hasn't seen "The Lego Movie" yet. But in a way, she's lived it.  She has built all sorts of things with her children Keith and Ariel, and heard the rustling clatter of Lego bricks long after bedtime when they were growing up.

Keith built his own versions of sci-fi spaceships, such as the Enterprise from "Star Trek" and the Millennium Falcon from "Star Wars" Ñ long before the company offered kits of those exact models.

Now she builds with her grandchildren, including Malikai Tuller. The bricks they use include some new, modern ones, but mostly, the entire pile includes the very same blocks used by her children.

"There's three generations of Legos here," said Ariel Wilson. "Keith and I used to play with them. He'd give me all the red and blue ones and keep the black, white and gray ones."

"The Lego Movie," starring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett, has earned impressive ticket sales since its release, and held off other opening movies such as "RoboCop" and "About Last Night."

Entertainment experts say the movie has universal appeal, because it's appealing to many different audiences.

"It's not just a kids' movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, with box-office tracker Rentrack. "There's something for boys, girls and adults, as well. The likeability is astronomical. That across-the-board appeal is giving 'The Lego Movie' unstoppable momentum, even in a weekend loaded with new competitors."

The movie tells the story of Emmet, an average construction worker who ends up discovering an ancient artifact rumored to have the power to save not just his own world, but many others. As the story unfolds, the spirit of play and the ability to work together are highlighted.

But an emotional plot twist near the end may Ñ let's just say it will encourage parents to play Legos with their kids, if they don't already.

Get busy building

More than a block, Legos are building bricks with strategically locking pegs and holes. The bricks snap together snugly and can be used to create anything that a builder can envision.

Bricks are sold in a variety of kits, from collections of basic bricks to specialized creations that tie into some sort of plotline. Lego makes kits based off fictional franchises such as "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars," and also develops its own storylines for product kits ranging from underwater creatures to pirate caves.

According to a parents' site by Lego, building has several advantages over other toys, in terms of development.

Wolf said she saw that first hand.

"My son started out with Legos, and now he's a chemist," Wolf said. "In all honesty, I think they helped him look at small things and figure out what he needs to create things."

Wolf encouraged parents to not only get Legos for their children, but use them in play, as well. From experience, she picked up the following tips:

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