While the field of children’s construction toys has always been competitive, some names go on to have an unfortunate negative connotation. One notable example is Playmobil, while not as universally beloved as Lego, with its perceived lack of action, and famous faces. They still maintain a loyal following. In 2019, the underdog of the children’s toy market, brought out the big guns to counter to the widespread success of its rival, showing the overlooked brand could put on a production to rival its competition, in Playmobil the Movie.
Our hero, Marla, wants to experience the challenge of the real world, after picking up her passport and getting ready to pack. Her plans are tragically put on hold when her parents are killed in a tragic accident. Four Years later she’s head of the house, putting her dreams on hold, and wears the responsibility heavily. After her brother, Charlie, runs away to a Playmobil convention, that is mysteriously set up on the anniversary of her parent’s death. After mysteriously being transformed into the world of Playmobil, she soon discovers that Charlie has mystical powers, but is soon kidnapped by others wanting to exploit those powers for themselves. Marla is on a quest to find her brother; she will team up with a varied cast of characters and take on the challenge of the wider world offered through Playmobil.
Wide-eyed acting star Anya Taylor Joy is a fun choice, as the film, predominantly focuses on her vocal talents for 80% of the film. Unremarkably she does well in the role of Marla, an unassuming protagonist for the role. A large part of the comic relief comes reliably from Jim Gaffigan, but much like the Emoji Movie, the guest roles are recognisable, and both are willing to get involved with the fun. Daniel
Craig Radcliffe practically steals the show as a James Bond Expy, Rex Dasher, instilling the character with such delivery as you can imagine the actor grinning as he delivered each line. Adam Lambert is also fun, in a slight departure from his singing roles, into a fun melodramatic villain, and the likes of Megan Trainor add to the musical pedigree.
With its cast of characters, Playmobil the Movie knows how to create a spectacle, I assume they were drawing from sets available to the purchasing community. Even if they’re sole creations for the film, they are enticing enough, Coliseums and Viking longships, meet up with taco trucks and an enormous T. Rex, suffice to say offers a buffet for the imagination. The film leans into the musical sporadically, an interesting choice, considering the success of Lego’s musical repertoire, and the likes of Lambert on the role. But the songs available are entertaining enough to keep things moving along nicely.
I think it is apt to say that the cards were stacked against Playmobil, looking like an also-ran in the shadow of the Lego Movie, with few internationally recognisable sets. The heart is here though, the actors are having fun, and the adventure is more than animated. Whether you’re looking for the next best thing, or willing to enjoy some simple pleasures, there’s still magic in Playmobil The Movie.
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