Playmobil: The Movie – Film Review

Following the success of The Lego Movie and its sequels/spin-offs, it’s no surprise that other toy companies want to get in on the movie action. We now have Playmobil: The Movie, which is basically a poor man’s version of The Lego Movie.

The film begins in the real world, with Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) searching for her younger brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) after he runs away. She finds him inside a massive Playmobil land in a toy store and he places his own Viking figure on the landscape and they get sucked in. They reappear in an animated Playmobil world – with Marla as an ordinary girl and Charlie as a blond, bearded Viking – and Marla has to go on an adventure to find Charlie after he gets kidnapped and imprisoned by the evil Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert).

Playmobil quite clearly doesn’t have as big a budget as The Lego Movie etc so that means the animation isn’t quite as slick, detailed and impressive and the musical numbers are deeply generic (although catchy). It can’t be described as visually stunning, the script is very average, the plot doesn’t serve up much originality and some moments are quite derivative. Yet despite all that, I enjoyed it quite a lot.

The overarching plot didn’t excite me but there were quite a few funny and clever moments that made me laugh. Its brilliance lies in the details and little flourishes. From pop culture nods, physical humour and one-liners, many aspects gave me a chuckle, probably more so than the kids in the room. So adults, rest assured, you can engage with this as well.

It is a musical but it’s not OTT. There are only about five or six songs in the whole thing and a few of them are a mix of speech and singing. Taylor-Joy’s opening song is a bit cringe and felt like something from The Lizzie McGuire Movie but it is perfect for the audience it’s targeting.

My favourite character is Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe), a James Bond-style spy who is a smooth talker that makes ladies go weak at the knees. He was hilarious. Panto villain Maximus will keep the kids entertained but he felt like a character I’d seen before – he was a mix of Lord Farquaad from Shrek and King George from Hamilton. He was wonderfully camp! Jim Gaffigan was funny as Marla’s sidekick Del, as was Kenan Thompson as Bloodbones, while Meghan Trainor had a cute scene as the Fairy Godmother. Taylor-Joy and Bateman don’t really stand out in the animated scenes because they’re just reactionary – “oh no, what do we do now?!” – but they were good in the live-action, playing siblings struggling after a family tragedy.

Playmobil pales in comparison to its bigger-budget competitors and its design isn’t that nice, but it’s a fun, easy-going watch that was more enjoyable than expected.

In cinemas from Friday 9th August 

(Rating: 3/5)

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