Everything is Awesome About The Lego Movie

Today was the end of weeks of waiting for Matthew – and Daniel – today we were going to see The Lego Movie ( https://theworldofneil.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/lego-pressure/) Jane and I were crossing our fingers that it would live up to Matthew’s expectations. He’s been talking about nothing since he heard it was to be in the cinema this month. He’s watched so many clips it seemed like he’d seen the full movie! He has already told us he wants it on DVD – before he’d seen it! Well, would two Lego-loving boys be impressed or underwhelmed?

I must admit that I wasn’t sure it looked to good. A couple of clips I saw had a couple of so-so gags in it. Maybe it would fail to deliver and we’d be left disappointed. I shouldn’t have worried. Right from the start it was brilliant. Definitely a kids movie on the surface, but with humour pitched on two levels so to keep the adults in the audience engaged. Hard to not like a movie with Morgan Freeman in it. But it was definitely Chris Pratt as lead character Emmett who stole the show. He ultimately lead us on a journey that reminded us toys are meant for free play, not to focus the mind on a specific goal. I know some of the modern day Lego sets are often stunning kits, but they leave little to the imagination.

I’m not going to go into a blow-by-blow account of the movie – just go and see it. I went in reasonably looking forward to it, but came out thrilled by it. It had plenty of slapstick humour in it for the kids but the gags in the dialogue were equally brilliant. A combination of the two was a hilarious end result at times. A kids movie that has adults laughing out loud is a brilliant success by the writers and director. The success of it lay in marrying up well known fictional characters and putting them in unexpected situations. Will Arnett as Batman was brilliantly done. Even he recognises that ultimately its Emmett that’s the real hero.

What made it a success for us was the fact that the boys sat transfixed for the movie’s 1 hour & 40 minutes. Anything that has two ASD boys sitting still – and holds their attention – for that length of time has definitely done something right. Matthew was beaming when we came out of the cinema. The look on his face was a picture. It turned out that Lego had definitely delivered for him. It was quite a relief really. He just couldn’t stop talking about it – or stop singing the catchy little tune that runs through the movie (and through your head once you’ve heard it!) “Everything is Awesome” There was no question whatsoever that for Matthew (and Daniel) that The Lego Movie definitely was AWESOME! For me, it was an unexpected gem, and I can foresee it becoming a firm favourite in our house once it hits DVD format.

Well done Lego. Thanks to you, Everything is Awesome!


Lego Pressure

What child doesn’t love Lego? When I was a kid, naturally I had Lego – the regular building block ones. They were all the Lego we needed. Now there are some pretty amazing kits available to kids (and older kids!) that look fantastic although they don’t leave too much to the imagination – that doesn’t mean I don’t want the Lego Millenium Falcon anymore!

The boys love it though – Daniel in particular is happy to create something with Lego out of his imagination. Its what Lego is all about, and it still retains that magic. The tie-up with Star Wars though really fires Daniel – and myself of course. Usually I’m resistant to watching/playing anything that’s even a slight parody of the Star Wars I love. But with Lego its different. They’ve taken a great concept and made it fun. We’ve got Lego Star Wars (the Complete Saga) for Wii and DS in our house. They’re not the boys though – they’re mine! I love playing them, but Daniel loves it even more. When he’s patient with it, he can work out the puzzles in the game, and is thrilled when he completes a level, finding the canisters.

Matthew takes a back seat when Daniel is playing the game. He loves the physical Lego too, but its Lego in cinema that does it for Matthew. He loves watching Lego Ninjago over and over. He’ll tell me about each of the characters he knows so well, what they can do, and who the bad guy is. He enjoys the Lego Star Wars shorts we have (we’ve got Padawan Menace and The Empire Strikes Out, which are great fun) so when I saw a trailer for The Lego Movie when I was in to see the Desolation of Smaug I couldn’t wait to tell Matthew about it. He was thrilled. Naturally he wanted to see it immediately. Imagine his distress when it turned out it wasn’t out until February!

It turned out we had a bit of luck at Christmas though. My brother, knowing we often go to kids club at Cineworld – gave us Cineworld vouchers, and when Matthew saw them, he insisted we’d be using them for The Lego Movie! Well, its almost upon us. Advanced screenings are this weekend, and we’ve duly booked 4 tickets for the 3D screening on Sunday morning. Matthew can’t wait. He’s already talking about seeing it again at Kids Club and getting it on DVD. He’s even now talking about getting The Lego Movie on Wii for Daniel’s birthday.

The thing is Matthew isn’t even considering the possibility of not liking the movie. To be fair the clips we’ve seen look fairly amusing and given his preference for all things Lego in film it does seem inconceivable that he won’t like it. But the pressure really is on The Lego Movie to deliver. We’ve got an ASD boy who’s mind is set on loving it, although I’m of the mind that he is so rigid in his thinking that he will convince himself he will like it no matter how good/bad it actually is.

So come on Lego, let’s hope you’ve got a hit on your hands. We’re counting on you to deliver once again!

Lego Indiana Jones Hits the Spot for Daniel

In the lead up to Christmas, my mum asked me what Daniel would like for Christmas. By pure fortune, I’d spotted Lego Indiana Jones for the Wii on Amazon just the week before Christmas, so I suggested that to my mum, as Daniel loves Lego Star Wars on the Wii and after watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with Daniel, Lego Indy on the Wii seemed the obvious step.

When he opened it on Christmas Day, he was delighted. As he was vaguely familiar with the Indiana Jones story, and VERY familiar with the Lego video game format so he was off and running immediately. He knows to collect the lego studs and look for the special treasure chests. He also now enjoys solving the little puzzles that help him progress with the game. Of course his aspergers nature mean that he is a little perfectionist, and that then means that he expects to be perfect at everything he does immediately. Frustration usually hits, and he can get quite angry. A mini meltdown rather than a tantrum I think – you can see that he’s unable to control it and off he goes.

Most of the time though he’s immersed in the game, and he loves his successes in the game and making it to the end of the levels. Sometimes he can’t resist asking me to look up the walkthroughs on the internet when he’s really stuck, but he much prefers doing it himself. It gives him a real sense of achievement and for a little boy who routinely believes he’s no good at anything (we have a negative person in our house who is always talking about what can’t be done, rather than what can) that’s a real positive of gaming for Daniel.

I will admit that in suggesting Lego Indiana Jones I did have an ulterior motive as I love the Indy movies, and I’m partial to Lego Star Wars too! But Daniel does love it, and I think the puzzle solving in the game is good for him. In addition, although Matthew doesn’t play games often he is an avid watcher of Daniel, and is always ready to help him. He’ll share in Daniel’s successes in the game, and I think Daniel really appreciates that. Sometimes when Daniel is hovering on a little meltdown, he’ll take it out on Matthew, accusing him on occasion of breathing just to annoy him! But mostly when Matthew is cheering when Daniel has completed a level, he’s happy Matthew is there for him in Team Daniel. Its always nice to see them bond, and Lego video games certainly do that.

Daniel has already “suggested” Lego Indiana Jones 2 for his birthday. Given the success of the Lego Indy we already have had, I think the birthday fairy may well land him Indy 2!

Lego Playtime

Yesterday Matthew and Daniel both landed Lego kits from my mum who had brought them back from New York. Matthew had a Lego Technic (or Lego Technique as he pronounces it!) and Daniel a Lego Star Wars A-Wing fighter. Naturally, they wanted to get them out as soon as we got home. I suggested we let our lunch go down (we’d been out for a late lunch with my mum & brother) but that we could sit on the floor (so I could keep an eye on the NFL!) and put them together.

Daniel was happy to put the little figures that came with his together. He likes the ships etc, but he’s much happier with the “people” as he can involve them in his solitary imaginative play. Matthew wanted to help though, and before long we were going through the manual, searching for the pieces we needed. Of course when Daniel saw Matthew involved, he decided he wanted to help. So there we were, three of us working on a Lego Star Wars ship. I’m not sure who was enjoying it most!

Eventually, that was complete – it didn’t take too long to put together, as the Lego manuals are perfect for the age range their products are aimed at. They’re clear and uncomplicated, and are very easy to follow. They certainly call for much less concentration than some other products aimed at children. Clearer instructions mean less stress! Daniel was delighted when we did get there, and he wanted to play with it of course. Thing with these toys that when they’re completed, you’re wary of them being broken – despite them only being Lego. We’d still have all the pieces and the manual, so it would be easy to put together again. But still, once you’ve gone to the effort, you’re reluctant to break it up. But, it’s the view I’m taking. D did drop it, and a few pieces went flying. I told him it wasn’t a problem, and that we could easily put it together again, which we did.

Matthew, maybe feeling that little bit older, decided to start work on his one himself. I was impressed how well he’d started. He was putting it together nicely, although when I offered to help, he was quite happy with that. Every page we turned, he exclaimed, “nice upgrade!” – it was coming together and he was thrilled.

We got to after 8pm – it was a late night for a school night! – when I suggested to Matthew we stop. He asked if we could do one more page of the manual. As he’d been so brilliant with it, and the whole evening had been full of enjoyable play & cooperation with the boys, I was easily convinced. We’ll finish it off tonight!

Although the new generation of Lego doesn’t leave to much to the imagination any more, they are fun to do – particularly the ones with the movie tie-ins. More importantly, the provide a bonding opportunity between parent and child, and gives the parent a chance to be a child again. Thanks to Lego for a lovely evening!

Lego Star Wars Advent Fun

It has become a family tradition in our house that each day of advent is marked with a small bag containing chocolate and a small gift. Jane painstakingly sources the chocolate coins, the small gifts during the year, then towards November will bag them up to make sure each person in the house gets something similar each day. That became even more important when the boys came along (yes, we did it when it was adults only in the house!) as one getting something different from the other would lead to a big fight!

Last year was slightly different though. As Daniel had picked up my passion for Star Wars, Jane decided to buy the Lego Star Wars advent calendar. The boys loved it. Even Matthew, who’s not as big a Star Wars fan as Daniel is, couldn’t wait to open them daily. Safe to say, it was a huge hit. Well, this year there was no doubt that we had to get one again for all of the boys in the house! Each day the calendar has a small Lego Star Wars toy behind each door, needing assembly. They boys were told that as they’re fiddly and there’s not much time in the mornings for playing about while the have breakfast & get ready for school, they’d have to wait until I got home from work. It caused a bit of consternation of course, but once they thought about it, it would give them something to look forward to at the end of the school day.

So, on Sunday we started with Matthew opening door 1, with a small R4 droid unit to be put together. Matthew is doing the odd-numbered days this year, as he opened the big(ish) toy on Christmas Eve last year, so its Daniel’s turn this year. They couldn’t wait! On Monday I’d barely got in the door when the boys were at me to do the Lego Star Wars calendar! Its a bit of fun for us. All I do is check out how the little toy goes together, then leave it to the boys to do the work. Its their calendar after all!

Each Sunday in advent, there’s an extra little treat for the boys, as there’s a code on the back of the little door for the day that needs input to the Lego Star Wars website that unlocks a game for the character that was behind the door for that day, so there’s a bit of interactivity for them, and they both love the Lego Star Wars website. The calendar is relatively expensive at £25, but they have the fun of putting the toys together, which they play with for months afterward, particularly Daniel with his fantastic imaginary play, and they love the games online. If your little one loves Star Wars, give it a thought next year. May the Force be With You this Christmas!