A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Playmobil: The Movie is an animated/live-action musical adventure based on the popular German children's toys. The movie may appeal to younger kids familiar with the toys, and the story about two children who are magically transported into the Playmobil universe is easy enough to follow. Expect a few potentially upsetting scenes and themes -- specifically, the fact that siblings Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) are left orphaned early on -- but most of the violence is cartoonish and comedic. Characters drink what could be alcohol; language includes "sucks" and "Jeez." Like all movies inspired by toys, there's a significant amount of consumerism involved: The story can be seen as a long ad for the toy kits. Still, despite its commercial basis, the movie promotes sibling unity, teamwork, and perseverance. The all-star voice cast includes Adam Lambert, Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Gaffigan, Meghan Trainor, and Kenan Thompson.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE, Brooklyn-raised high school senior Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) loves playing with her 6-year-old brother, Charlie (Gabriel Bateman), but she can't wait to graduate and start traveling the world with her brand-new passport. Then life takes an unexpected turn when tragedy strikes. Four years later, Marla struggles to raise 10-year-old Charlie, who runs off to Manhattan to join a friend but gets sidetracked at a toy convention that features a huge Playmobil display. When Marla tracks her brother down there, they get magically transported into the animated Playmobil universe, where Marla looks basically the same but Charlie looks like a warrior with super strength. The siblings are drawn into a war between pirates, Vikings, and knights, and Charlie is kidnapped at the bequest of Maximus (voiced by Adam Lambert), a Roman-style emperor who hosts gladiator-style battles to the death featuring the strongest warriors of the universe. Now Marla must figure out a way to once again find and rescue her brother.
Is it any good?
There aren't enough moments of delight, humor, or joy in this toy-based movie, which is likely to bore parents but may well appeal to young kids who enjoy Playmobil sets. After the success of the Lego movies, it's hard not to see Playmobil: The Movie as a completely derivative endeavor that falls far short. In a reverse of the original Lego Movie, this one begins with the live-action part and then transitions into the animated toy world. But this one isn't nearly as clever or funny, the music isn't as catchy, and the set pieces and characters are only vaguely familiar, unless you're an existing (or former) Playmobil fan.
All of that said, the talented voice cast saves this from being a completely wasted 90 minutes. While the songs are bland and forgettable, Lambert's Freddie Mercury-esque vocals as the villainous Maximus are fun. (Just don't expect to leave singing the new "it song" of the season.) The buddy road-trip subplot between Marla and Del is silly, though it lacks sparkling banter and chemistry. But it's still funnier than the parts with Charlie and his fellow imprisoned "gladiators." Disappointing but not unwatchable, Playmobil feels more like a C-grade copycat than an original idea.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Playmobil: The Movie capitalizes on familiarity with the toy brand. What toy-based movies have worked the best? Does seeing toys in a movie make you want to get them?
Why do you think lots of family-targeted movies feature orphans and dead parents? What is it about orphans that make them appealing as characters? Who are your favorite pop culture orphans?
- In theaters: December 6, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: March 3, 2020
- Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Gaffigan
- Director: Lino DiSalvo
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action/peril and some language
- Last updated: March 2, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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