Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Lego Movie: Now Playing at a Living Room Near Me

Both of my sons are obsessed with Legos—they have been for the past three years or so. Whatever time they’re not spending in school, eating, sleeping, or pummeling each other with sofa cushions, is generally spent playing with the colorful interlocking blocks. On a typical Saturday they will spend several hours building elaborate ships and/or structures, and then several more hours having their Lego Minifigures interact among the various ships and/or structures they just built. Usually the many hours of Lego play ends when one of the boys whips a sofa cushion out of nowhere and starts pummeling his brother. Welcome to my weekend.

Given my kids’ love of everything Lego it was no surprise that when The Lego Movie came out last February they were extremely anxious to see it. As soon as we saw it, it became their favorite movie. They talked about it constantly in the weeks after seeing it, so I took them to see it in the theater a second time, which is something I’d never done with them before.

In the months following our second viewing of the movie, my boys intermittently reminded me that as soon as The Lego Movie was available on DVD, we needed to purchase it. I assured them that we would. As it turns out, the movie was released on DVD while we were away on vacation in Utah in June. Strategically, my wife and I decided that we would purchase the DVD the day we were driving back to Arizona so the boys could watch it on the car DVD player during the long ride home. This proved to be a sage decision. The movie kept them occupied on the entire drive as they watched it three times back to back. They thought they were getting away with something every time they pressed play again when the movie ended, but the truth is my wife and I were basking in the glorious silence coming from the back of the minivan as the boys watched the movie with their headphones on for six straight hours.

When we got back from our Utah trip the boys had a month-and-a-half before school would start up again. That means they had lots of free time on their hands. Yes, they played, but they also watched The Lego Movie…a lot. But as the summer wore on an interesting dynamic evolved—my 7-year-old began to grow a bit weary of The Lego Movie and my 5-year-old couldn’t get enough of it. On Saturdays my younger son would bounce out of bed and immediately ask, “Can we watch The Lego Movie?” This would cause my older son to roll his eyes and counter with, “Can’t we watch something else already?”

I was definitely on my older son’s side on this one. Although The Lego Movie is very entertaining, and I certainly didn’t watch it with my kids every time it was playing, it was clearly becoming a bit too pervasive in our lives. I found myself driving home from work humming the song “Everything is Awesome” a bit too frequently. Something had to give, so about two weeks ago I put my foot down.

“Can we watch The Lego Movie?” my little one asked within minutes of getting out of bed.

“No, we watch it all the time. Let’s watch something else,” I said.

“You mean we can never watch it again?” he cried, his eyes filling up with tears.

“No, I didn’t say that. We’re just not going to watch it today. We’ll watch it again some other time.”

“When?” he asked, with a desperation usually only heard from addicts going through withdrawal symptoms.

“Um, I don’t know,” I said, which prompted my son to have an uncontrollable sobbing fit.

With my younger son reduced to tears and my older son nonchalantly browsing through our DVD collection, I contemplated my next move. Suddenly I had one of those rare parental eureka moments.

“What if I wrote on the calendar the days we’ll watch The Lego Movie?” I said.

“What?” my son asked, looking up with wet cheeks.

“Well if I write on the calendar the days that we’ll watch The Lego Movie, you’ll know for sure when you’re going to see it next,” I said. He seemed cautiously intrigued.

I walked over to the family calendar where we mark down the various important things going on in our lives—karate classes, birthday parties, date nights, etc.—and wrote The Lego Movie in at approximately two week intervals over the next two months. My son watched as his sobs slowly subsided.

“Is that okay?” I asked. He nodded hesitantly, as he closely eyeballed the calendar.

That day we watched something else—probably Curious George or Clifford, although I would have personally preferred The Godfather or The Shining. But happily, my youngest never once asked about The Lego Movie the rest of the day.

The following Saturday, after not having put on The Lego Movie for the longest period of time since we purchased it two months earlier, I pointed to the writing on the calendar and my son practically jumped out of his pajamas with excitement as he shouted, “Yes!” loud enough to register on the Richter scale. I watched the movie with my two sons and thoroughly enjoyed it—in large part because I knew it would be a couple of weeks before I’d have to watch it again.

And now we’re on a regular schedule and everybody’s happy. Indeed, when I flipped the calendar page from August to September, the first thing my youngest did was review it for showings of The Lego Movie. The family wall calendar has become his personal Moviefone and he can tell you without even looking that showings of his favorite film will be held on the morning of September 13th and the evening of September 25th. So for now, at least, our family can avoid The Lego Movie overload…until May 26, 2017 when The Lego Movie 2 comes out.