Cars 2 + LEGOs = Match Made in Kid-Dom

If my friend T didn’t love me, she’d hate me. At her son’s 7th birthday party a few weeks back, every time the boy opened a box of LEGOs, I started yelling, “T, look, it’s LEGOs! Yipee!” Yes, she hates LEGOs. And yes, I’m still friends with her. What can I tell you? We’ve known each other since fourth grade? I can’t abandon her now?

The fact is, I haven’t a met a LEGO in my life I haven’t liked. Growing up on a rural back road, with no cable (really), where the concept of public transportation was the stuff you read about in books, or better yet, built out of bricks, you learned to choose your entertainment wisely. Stuff that you would solve easily, tire of quickly, was better left behind. And that left LEGOs.

And so it was appropriate that when I was leaving for Los Angeles for my day job to cover the world premiere of Cars 2 on Disney’s dime that an offer from Disney Consumer Products for my daughter to play with a portion of the accompanying Cars 2 LEGO line fall into my lap.

What better way for my just-turned-6-year-old to amuse herself while I was gone than the way her mother kept herself occupied for hours living on a back road with few playmates, with nothing but the voices in her head to keep her occupied? I gave her Mater’s Spy Zone to play with, and let her loose with just the directions, confident that at 6 she could master its simple directions,. but also convinced sure she’d “gotten” what LEGOs meant, “how” to play with them past building.

It’s ironic that in interviewing actor Owen Wilson, who played Lightning McQueen in both the original Cars and Cars 2 that I learned he did much the same thing. Explaining how he approached voice acting rather than physical acting, Wilson told me, “I . .. spent . . . time as a little kid having these little wars and things. So I wonder if I got used to kind of being able to kind of, you know, playing it out with stuff in my head.”

And that’s how it was with LEGOs with me. I played it all out in my head. No wonder I was happy to see T’s son load up on a pile of LEGOs at his birthday party, to see my daughter load up on her own.

But it was after watching Cars 2, after seeing Mater and Holley Shiftwell, the most powerful female yet to drive through onto a Disney/Pixar screen (check out my interview with the voice behind the kick ass lady spy car herself, Emily Mortimer, over at the day job, The Stir!), in action, that I truly got all ferklempt seeing a LEGO set in my daughter’s hands. Because she could do with them what SHE wanted. On screen, Mater is the star. Her little boy friends, they all love Mater. But my daughter, she’s one of those girly girls who kicks some serious ass. I’m lucky that way. She’ll beg for nail polish on the same toes she’ll use to go outside and kick something.

And so the LEGO line in particular, of all the things in Disney Consumer Products has served up from this movie, has served us well. It does what LEGO does best — feed a kid’s imagination, combined with the Disney flavor of some favorite characters.

She gets to control the action. She gets to take the newly built product and decide what happens next. She gets to do so many things that so many women before her couldn’t. Yeah, it’s just a toy, but this is what LEGO does to me. I get all emotional and shit people. I remember sitting in my playroom as a kid, with these immense villages spread out across the room, voicing entire stories in my head Owen Wilson-style. It was the start of who I am today, a successful writer. It was a taste of adventure stuck on a back road in a small town without a lot of kids to play with.

Cars 2 is, in fact, a movie about spies on that takes place on an international road race. I want everyone to see it, and not because Disney paid for me to attend to world premiere, not because I got to walk the red carpet, not because my bosses let me write some incredible stories about interviewing some pretty cool stars. But after they see it, I really do hope these kids get to go home and just play with regular old LEGOs. They opened up worlds for me. I can only wish the same for today’s kids.

Are your kids LEGO fans? What Cars 2 toys are topping their lists?

Excited about Cars 2 toys? My friend Jenn over at Momma D and Da Boyz is ready to hook you up! She’s got a huge giveaway going on! Just check it out!

Disclosure: Disney covered expenses for the author to attend a press junket for Cars 2, and Lego provided a sample of Mater’s Spy Zone to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Images via Disney

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