Playmobil: The Movie, by Cameron J. Czaja

I thought I was going to get a break from reviewing a film this week because usually there’s nothing big coming out the week after Thanksgiving. Or so I thought. What peaked my curiosity to see Playmobil: The Movie is how they were going to make a movie about the Playmobil toys and how bad it could it possibly be. I say that because this was delayed several times, which means Hollywood at one point didn’t have faith in it. After watching it they should’ve delayed it indefinitely because I had no idea how bad this was going to be. I know it sounds like I’m jumping the gun more than I usually do in these reviews, but I feel like I had to get my true feelings out before I explain the plot, which itself is pretty crazy. Also this review may contain spoilers.

Despite being an animated film, Playmobil: The Movie opens up as a live action film as we follow a girl named Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) who just got a passport so she can travel the world before going to college. When her little brother Charlie (Ryan S. Hill) asks what a passport is, Marla explains through song (oh yeah I forgot to mention that this is a musical) and he now wants to travel with her. Soon after that musical number the police show up at their door explaining that their parents were in an accident which cuts to black screen. Four years later Marla is now in her early ‘20s taking care of Charlie (now played by Gabriel Bateman, who looks nothing like his younger self in the movie) and he runs away from home after they get into a fight. While on the run, Charlie discovers that there is a toy fair being set up in their city and decides to attend it. Marla, worried about his whereabouts, is able to track him down through their phones and they both end up in a Playmobil exhibit at the toy fair. From there (bear with me here) they get sucked into a Playmobil lighthouse where the two siblings turn in Playmobil characters. From there, the rest of the film is now animated and both siblings now have to try and figure out a way back home.

I’ve mention in previous reviews about certain films being predictable and I feel like I owe those films an apology because Playmobil: The Movie is the most predictable and cliché ridden animated film that I’ve all year (possibly the last few years). I know I watch a lot of films, but even the average movie goer can acknowledge some common clichés that happen in this film. Examples of these include having deceased parents in order to gain sympathy from the audience, a Han Solo deus ex machina during the film’s climax, and the two siblings who mainly argued will get along better at the end. I know that I’m not the demographic for this film, but as someone who has seen both of The Lego Movies and the spinoffs (which you can’t help but compare this film to), I feel like my criticism is valid here. While watching this film made me not only want to watch The Lego Movie, but it made me appreciate the sequel to that film, which I thought was a so-so film after I watched it.

Earlier I mentioned that Playmobil: The Movie was a musical and it was a mistake making this film one. It’s not that the actors in the film can’t sing, as the villain in the film is voiced by Adam Lambert, it’s just that the musical numbers here feel forced and unnecessary to the plot. This is coming from someone who grew up loving the Disney musicals in the 1990s. I feel like the filmmakers wanted to follow the trend of recent animated films and make some songs that they hope kids will listen and sing to over and over again, which again feels forced.

If there were anything I can say positive about Playmobil: The Movie, it would the character of Marla and another character named Del (voiced by Jim Gaffigan). What I liked about these two characters is that the film writes them with having good chemistry while not going down the cliché route of having them hook up at the end. In addition, it’s always nice to see Jim Gaffigan having a somewhat big role, even if it’s a terrible film. For those who don’t know, he is a comedian who talks about his Catholic upbringing and his Catholic lifestyle, and I always try and support any Catholic entertainers if given the chance.

Playmobil: The Movie is a predictable mess with a rushed plot and forced musical numbers that felt like it doesn’t merit anyone’s time whatsoever. Just go watch either Frozen II or The Lego Movie; both are fun to watch and have value to them, which this film has neither.

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