Movie Review: Tedium itself? “Playmobil: The Movie”


I am an audience of one at an afternoon matinee of “Playmobil: The Movie.” I am in one of the busiest cinemas in the gigantic Regal Cinemas chain. What does the rest of North America know, or at least suspect, about this movie that I do not?

The toys are “the brand that’s NOT Lego,” for starters. It’s a Canadian production, a veteran of Disney animation directed it, the music’s not by anybody you ever heard of and it’s distributed by up-and-coming distributor STX (“Hustlers”). There are some names — not really BIG names — in the voice cast.

But there aren’t enough cute moments to even cut a decent trailer or TV ad out of it.

Still, for a few minutes, as we roll through a live-action prologue, as Anya Taylor-Joy sings about all the places she’ll go, as Marla, backpacking with just her passport and undiscussed cash reserves, the charm sets in.

Can’t let the cops who show up at the door to tell Marla and bratty brother Charlie (Ryan S. Hill) “there’s been an accident” be a buzzkill. That’s right, the parents die-off in the prologue.

A few years later, Anya’s dream has been deferred. She’s got a job that requires a name-tag and a burden — raising Charlie. He (now played by Gabriel Bateman) is prone to sneaking out, and ducking into a Toy Expo, he loses himself in a gigantic Playmobil display. But it’s only when Marla shows up that they are magically transformed into plastic figures (he’s a Viking, she’s just a plain Plastic Jane version of herself) and hurled into the many worlds made possible by Playmobil toys.

A battle between Vikings kicks things off, but there’s Pompei and Ancient Rome, Quantum City, the Old West’s Rattlesnake Junction, with pirates, knights, fairies (singer Meghan Trainor) and a suave spy, Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe).

“It’s OK to be excited to see me! You’re only human!”

Charlie’s kidnapped, by pirates no less (Kenan Thompson voices one). The “plot” has Marla pursing them from Playmobil world to Playmobil world, often with the help of a “magic hay” food truck driver voiced by Jim Gaffigan. The pirates? What a bunch of cretins!

“What be a cretin?”

“Arrr, it’s uh BREAD ye put in a salad!”

The are villains, such as Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert).

“What do we have here?”

Your WORST nightmare!

“You’re not a piñata full-a BEES!”

The animation’s not bad, the songs aren’t much, the jokes are even less. Tiny, tiny tykes might find something to like about it.

But long-review-short here — it’s too dull to sit through, too noisy to sleep through.


MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril and some language

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman, and the voices of Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe, Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert and Kenan Thompson

Credits: Directed by Lino DiSalvo, script by Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland. An STX release.

Running time: 1:39

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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