To paraphrase The Lego Batman Movie: Death…all great children’s stories start with death, or seem to. In the case of The Playmobil Movie, it’s the parents on the chopping block as they’re offed (offscreen) within the first ten minutes to clear the way for Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her younger brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) to have their magical adventure in the world of Playmobil.
It’s a likeable enough caper which dispenses with the surprise twist of “The Lego Movie” by making it explicit upfront that we’re dealing with real people. In a way, it’s a much more old-fashioned approach to the idea because The Playmobil World is entirely magical and real (unto itself) although why Charlie and Marla are transported to it is never actually explained apart from the chance to learn a heartwarming lesson and make some friends along the way.
What follows is a perfectly pleasant but unsatisfyingly perfunctory adventure story that takes us on a whirlwind tour of the various worlds of Playmobil (available at your local toy store now) and in that sense, it’s as much an extended commercial for the perhaps lesser-known-than-Lego toy range even if it does often highlight the toy’s shortcomings (such as their lack of articulation) for gags.
It’s colourful and amusing enough to keep the kids occupied and some of the voice cast are good value, especially Daniel Radcliffe as suave superspy Rex Dasher but where it falls down is in its attempts to be a musical adventure. The songs are…not good, in fact their only redeeming feature is they’re so instantly forgettable they don’t hang around to stink up the place one the last note fades.