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A Movie Nerd With Kids Reviews: "Lego Friends: The Power of Friendship" (2016)

The Plot at a Glance

Some animated teenage girls hang out and have adventures, like saving their camp from a greedy land developer and making a reality show about a pop star.

There is also music.

My Thoughts

Here's another Netflix original that, like Storybots, is based on a commercially viable property I'd never heard of.  The Lego Friends have been around for a couple of years and apparently had a show already on another network that ran for about a dozen episodes, as well as a few games and direct-to-video movies.  And toys, of course.

This review is specifically about the "Power of Friendship" series that debuted on Netflix earlier this year.  It's apparently so new that I couldn't actually find an entry for it on IMDb.  Either that or I'm bad at the Internet.  While I figure that out, here's a link to their previous show.

The Lego Friends, like the girls from the Bratz movie and other "just some normal kids hanging out" properties, are a well-meaning attempt to create a diverse group of teenagers that girls can identify with.  Unfortunately, they're all pretty similar, so the "diversity" is pretty superficial.  None of them are fat, none of them are poor - hell, none of them even wear glasses.  They're all basically the same peppy upper middle class skinny girl with a couple of palette swaps.

Not that this necessarily makes the show wretched.  Just... y'know.  It's not as good as it could be.

But leaving aside matters of social sensitivity, the bigger question is: is it any good?  The answer: Eh.  Sorta.

There's very little in here that feels fresh or innovative.  The whole thing just feels like somebody went to the Creativity Factory and squirted a bunch of beige paste into a mold, then shoved it onto Netflix and called it a new show.  Not that I have much room to complain.  Molded creativity paste is everywhere.  I usually eat the action flavor.

The jokes are a mixed bag.  A few gags hit home, most don't.  There's allusions to tropes and film references here and there that kinda worked for me, and a lot of physical comedy that didn't.

On the plus side: the voice acting is good, the animation is generally good, and the music is almost regrettably catchy.

I guess what I'm saying is this: you probably won't love the show, but if you have to be in the room while it's on, you won't go crazy.


My Score: 2 / 5

It's not really for me, so unsurprisingly, I did not care for it.

How Did Lulabelle (22 months old) React?

She was pretty into it whenever there was music.  I think if she could follow the plot, she'd enjoy it a lot more.

How Did Sonja (4 months old) React?

Not at all.

How Did Stephanie (My Wife) React?

She didn't watch the whole run with me and Lula, but she appreciated the bits of girl power that came up here and there.

Any Useful Ethical, Educational, or Thematic Content?

A little.  There's nothing educational, but there is a bit of good role modeling going here - the girls are all self-sufficient and capable.  At least one episode deals with one of the girls debating whether or not to lose at a game with a boy in order to make him like her, and later they explicitly make a point that girls shouldn't have to hold themselves back.  Those moments are excellent.

Trigger Warnings / Egregious Offenses?

The body design is a little bit gross.  The girls are all on the skinnier side, and a couple have impossible waistlines.  They also all have enormous heads that are like 10% eyeball, but I'll chalk that up to stylistic flair rather than sexism.

But as far as unfair body image is concerned, Lego Friends is one of the lesser offenders.  Nobody's pulling a Lara Croft here, and even the skinniest of them isn't really thaaaat bad.  This is more like a shake-your-head, not so much a gasp-and-cover-your-mouth.

You know what, I think maybe it's time I introduce a new feature to these reviews: the Body Shame Meter.  It goes from "Fiona from Shrek" to "literally any of the freaks from Monster High."

There aren't really any other offenses.  The rich girl is a bit of a straw (wo)man and might irk you if you're one of them politically cantankerous types, but even she ends up coming out on top for the most part.

How Likely Are You to Cry In Front of Your Kids?

10% at most.  Unless you're feeling extremely tender, you'll be fine.

How Likely Are You to Be Annoyed?

25%.  It's mostly harmless, though I could see the songs driving you insane if you're not into EDM.

Final Weighted Score: 3 / 5

It's a pretty average show all across the board.  Nothing stands out as amazing, but on the other hand, nothing's terrible.  The nicest thing I can say about it is that it's surprisingly watchable and has halfway decent role models.  Even so, there are better options for your daughter.