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Playmobil: The Movie – Movie Review

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Playmobil: The Movie – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

The Playmobil toys have brought joy to many children ever since Hans Beck first devised them in the 1970s. A movie featuring the figurines was probably inevitable and while the story could have been stronger, director Lino DiSalvo is able to show the creativity inherent in the toys. The film jumps back and forth between a young girl and the brother she is searching for in the Playmobil world, but its strengths really lie in the computer-generated worlds we explore and the way the animators adapt the toys. Playmobil: The Movie is ultimately a harmless children’s film that may have its share of clichés, but one can still admire the craft on display.

The film is able to establish the two main characters rather quickly in the live-action opening before sending them to the animated Playmobil universe. The story is rather thin and the leads go through the arcs we expect from them, but both Anya Taylor-Joy’s Marla and Gabriel Bateman’s Charlie are likeable enough. A lot of the film consists of a series of set-pieces where Marla goes from one part of the Playmobil world to the next, accompanied by a food truck driver. Where Playmobil: The Movie picks up is during the more fast-paced action sequences. The animators really cut loose here and DiSalvo has fun with a western town chase and spy movie-style escape.

Charlie’s portions aren’t quite as entertaining, as he spends a lot of his screentime trapped by the villain. A Roman emperor named Maximus, he doesn’t make for a compelling baddie, although the Ancient Rome setting is nice to look at. Playmobil: The Movie is a musical and the songs are okay. They’re bubbly little numbers, although the movie also could have done without them. Where the script disappoints is unfortunately in the humour department. One can see the jokes on the screen, but they don’t land with the intended effect. There is a lack of laugh-out-loud moments with only a few chortles surfacing on rare occasions.

Where Playmobil: The Movie deserves commending is in the animation. The animators have the tricky responsibility of making the Playmobil figurines move in a way that’s faithful to the toys. They succeed and one of the few truly funny scenes comes when Marla tries to get used to her new plastic body. The movie also serves as a celebration of the creativity of Playmobil and how one can come up with a variety of stories for them. DiSalvo and his writing and story teams pack the movie with as many Playmobil sets as possible. It becomes fun trying to spot the many areas and toys represented in the finished film.

While Playmobil: The Movie may have its fair share of flaws, the film as a whole does accomplish that spirit of creativity the titular toys are known for. Lino DiSalvo and the animators have managed to capture the little details and show why the toys have lasted as long as they have. The movie may not rise above your standard animated children’s movie and the jokes could have been stronger, but there are still parts to appreciate. It’s easy to see what the movie seeks to accomplish and if it inspires a child to walk up to the Playmobil aisle at their local Toys ‘R’ Us, then that’s certainly a good thing as they’re guaranteed hours of fun when they return home.

Stefan Ellison

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