After the success of The LEGO Movie and its spin-offs, you can understand why someone thought it would be a good idea to take the mega-selling Playmobil toys and create a feature length adventure around them.
Of course, those plastic, cup-handed Playmobil figurines and their homes, transport and play sets don’t have the multi-generational appeal that LEGO does, so this movie is squarely aimed at the most junior of audiences, without any of the wit and sly humour that the LEGO movies employed to keep accompanying adults entertained as well.
The movie begins with dull live action scenes that let us know Marla (Taylor-Joy) had to give up dreams of travelling the world when her parents were killed and she was left to care for her younger – and annoyingly selfish – brother Charlie (Bateman). When he runs away to explore a city toy fair after hours, she tracks him down but then they both experience a strange phenomena that transports them into a massive animated Playmobil world where Marla is a mumsy figurine (one of the rare funny scenes has her tumbling down a hill after discovering her Playmobil legs have no joints) and fun-seeking Charlie is a Viking warrior, complete with beard and tattoos.
Their frenetic, headache-inducingly bright adventure leads Charlie to be captured by a Roman emperor (Adam Lambert) while Marla makes the acquaintance of food truck owner Del (Gaffigan) and secret agent Rex Dasher (Radcliffe, having fun spoofing the 007 role). In between, we travel through numerous ‘lands’ including one with dinosaurs, a Wild West town and a pirate ship for no particular reason other than to promote the corresponding Playmobil products you’ll be able to purchase at the nearest toy store. It’s so much like a feature-length advert you’ll be surprised the prices don’t flash up on the screen while you are watching.
The very youngest of viewers will have fun – although even they may groan at the dreadful song and dance numbers that interrupt proceedings – and may grasp the central messages about embracing adventure and trying your hardest, but parents will miss the inventiveness and charm that is present in the LEGO movies and other, better product-linked kids movies like Trolls and the early Thomas The Tank Engine adventures.
Is Playmobil: The Movie suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Adults should note that the movie does begin with Charlie and Marla’s parents dying, but it is subtly done – Marla is told they have been killed but nothing is depicted on screen.
Very young children may be nervous when the kids are transported from the darkened toy fair to the Playmobil world.
While the Playmobil characters are sometimes in danger, there is nothing very threatening about any of the scenes.
Some may be scared when they are pursued by a large dinosaur in the Roman area later in the movie, but it is a brief scene and the dinosaur is quickly changed into a likeable creature.
There is a female alien later in the movie that very young children may not enjoy.
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