Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe
Director: Lino DiSalvo
When I was growing up, it was a common idea that if your parents got you Playmobil toys instead of Legos, it was because they didn’t love you very much. I haven’t thought about that joke in years, but it may be the perfect analogy for Playmobil: The Movie. If your parents took you to this movie instead of The Lego Movie, they probably don’t love you very much. This movie feels like a desperate attempt for a rival manufacturer to cash in on their toys, but luckily it doesn’t seem to have worked as this movie has bombed in a spectacular fashion. Dull, uninspired, and poorly animated, Playmobil: The Movie is probably something that should’ve stayed in the toybox and not infecting our screens for 99 minutes.
The film follows Marla (Taylor-Joy) and Charlie (Bateman), two siblings who are forced to take care of each other after their parents die. When they are transported into a world of Playmobil figures and get separated, Marla makes it her mission to reunite with Charlie and get him back home while also having to deal with the hazards of their new environment. Why Playmobil: The Movie fails on such a monumental level is it feels completely soulless and empty compared to every other movie in the genre. Even when something like The Lego Movie came out and people were worried it would be a sellout, the movie had depth, tight animation, and comedy to carry it where it needed to go. In this movie, everything feels forced and meaningless which creates an atmosphere that we couldn’t care less about. Things just happen with little to no meaning, introduction, or backstory provided, which makes it impossible to care about anything that happens. For someone who worked as an animator on some huge projects over the course of his career, I’m stunned this is the best that DiSalvo could come up with for a directorial debut. Maybe this is a sign that he should stick to working on computers and stay away from anything higher up in the future. For a movie that feels like something that went straight to streaming, I’m surprised they were able to get so many big stars to provide their voices for this movie. That paycheck must’ve been fat, because I’m sure Taylor-Joy and Radcliffe have better things to do with their time than work on a nonsense movie like this. It’s nice to see a minor studio show up and attempt to battle it out with the big dogs like Dreamworks and Disney, but they forgot to make a quality project before trying to do something widespread. If this is your first interaction with the studios behind this movie, you’ll probably be inclined to stay far away from them in the future and I don’t blame you for that. I think for a movie to be made it needs to have a semblance of identity or reason behind it, and it’s very clear that Playmobil: The Movie is lacking everything essential from a fundamental movie-making perspective.
Overall, for someone who dedicated his life to animation to make a clunky, obnoxious animated movie when he’s given full control shows that maybe he’s not as talented as studios have told him he is. I usually give first-time directors a pass because there is a significant learning curve in the role, but Playmobil: The Movie isn’t even close to being competent. It’s almost at a point where everyone involved needs to take a long look in the mirror and figure out where everything went wrong to end up here. If you want to waste 99 minutes of your life watching this nonsense, then be my guest. I won’t be watching it again.
Overall Score: 1.5/10