Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

Lino DiSalvo
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe, Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Lino DiSalvo, Kirk Thornton, Paloma Michelle

A feature film adaptation of a toy line, taking place through many different themes, worlds, all powered by imagination? It's no wonder comparisons have been made with this and The LEGO Movie, but there's a big difference. With the latter, you could feel the creative team pouring their adoration for, and fond memories of, these toys into the film. This is especially evident in the notable crack in Benny's helmet, but we get no similar feeling in this film. No such respect or adoration feels evident here, and the film comes off as little more than a soulless cash grab.

Hoping to travel around the world, Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) finds her dreams dashed due to the tragic loss of her parents. Left to look after her younger brother, Charlie (Gabriel Bateman), she abandons her plans to hold down a full time job, and ensure he's looked after. After an argument, the pair unexpectedly end up in the world of Playmobil, where Marla must venture on a quest to rescue her brother.

Opening on the real world segments, first time director Lino DiSalvo grants the focus to the lead siblings, played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Gabriel Bateman. Their loving relationship is well portrayed, as they enjoy playing Playmobil, before the sudden death of their parents throws a wrench in Marla's plans. As time passes, she tries to make the responsible choices, and this leaves her and Charlie to clash. There's potential here for the ensuing adventure to teach the pair to understand and help one another. For Marla to know she doesn't have to be overly protective of her brother, who can stand on his own two feet, and life doesn't have to be put on hold when everything goes wrong.

Sadly, such things are overlooked. The priorities are on doling out forgettable musical numbers, and filling the time with half-hearted tries at jokes. It just all feels so lacking in effort, as though the entire thing is a reaction to The LEGO Movie being as much of a breakout hit as it was. But there's a clear lacking of self-aware wit, where the only try by screenwriters Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb, and Jason Oremland, is to show the difficulty in moving with such stiff arms and legs, only to forget about such an aspect seconds later in the very same scene.

Playmobil: The Movie is an utter marvel, in how it makes 99 minutes seem unending. The end product feels too hollow and reactionary to make any kind of lasting impression. It's a feature film that's as stiff as the figures arms and legs should be.