Playmobil: The Movie
"Being a generic and forgettable animated kids' flick is one thing, but when your only identity is to desperately be just like another successful animated film, that's when you've rendered yourself worthless."— ElectricDragon505 (AniMat)
Playmobil: The Movie is a 2019 English-language French computer-animated musical adventure comedy film based on the German building toy Playmobil. The film is directed by Disney veteran Lino DiSalvo, in his directorial debut, written by Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, and produced by On Animation Studios. Premiering as the opener of the June 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Playmobil: The Movie began theatrical runs in France on 7 August 2019 by Pathé.
When her younger brother Charlie unexpectedly disappears into the magical, animated universe of Playmobil, unprepared Marla must go on a quest of a lifetime to bring him home. As she sets off on a fantastic journey across stunning new worlds, Marla teams up with some unlikely and heroic new friends - the smooth-talking food truck driver Del, the dashing and charismatic secret agent Rex Dasher, a wholehearted misfit robot, an extravagant fairy-godmother and many more. Through their vibrant adventure, Marla and Charlie realize that no matter how life plays out, you can achieve anything when you believe in yourself.
Why It Sucks
- The entire film is nothing but a blatant rip-off of The Lego Movie, and its sequel shamelessly copying not just the concepts, but even story elements, tones, certain characteristics of the protagonists, and set locations. And unlike The Lego Movie, which managed to tell an excellent story and message, Playmobil: The Movie itself is purely an advertisement for Playmobil products.
- Except, it doesn't really advertise very well either. The Lego Movie showcased the rebuildable, interchangeable, and customizable nature of Lego bricks, but Playmobil has no such qualities, and the film doesn't really get into what makes Playmobil figures and sets unique from other toy lines, either.
- False advertising: In the American release, the poster shows Rex Dasher in the front which makes it look like that he was going to be the main protagonist of the film, but he does not appear until later in the film, with Marla as the actual protagonist.
- The combination of animation and live-action is rather pointless, considering that we never get to see anything shot in live-action after the first ten minutes until the very end.
- Marla is unlikable as a protagonist.
- The songs, aside from Run Like The River, are generic and suffer from formulaic lessons and meanings; they are also shoved in at the last second; this is most apparent with songs like "Brothers In Arms", all of which do nothing but describe what is currently happening on-screen.
- Charlie, Marla's brother, is a Viking in the Playmobil world, which is ridiculous because in real life, he is just a child, and even sounds like one; one could argue that it is because he grabbed the Viking figurine before entering the world, but even that doesn't make much sense since Marla still looks the same as she did in the real world.
- The Fairy Godmother character only exists to... sing a musical number that doesn't even match the scene and only serves as soundtrack fodder.
- The movie begins with a massive tonal problem, as it goes immediately from Marla singing a cutesy little musical number to finding out her parents died, with no time to breathe.
- On the topic of the Playmobil world, there is nothing in that world that feels anything like a Playmobil product; everything seems like reality, and even the Playmobil figures feel more like human beings than actual figures.
- The exhibit in a toy museum, in which the world is set, is never specifically said to be one based on Playmobil, it just mostly has Playmobil sets.
- The way Marla and Charlie enter the Playmobil world is dumb, and it is never even explained how or why the lighthouse in the toy convention is magical and only transports them.
- The figures are supposed to be plastic, but animals such as horses have realistic fur.
- Actual Playmobil figures do not have bendable arms or legs, and after Marla lands in the Playmobil world, she struggles with moving around for a while, but once she sees her brother, she suddenly starts moving like a normal person, with bending knees and elbows, as does every other character in the Playmobil world, and the real-life figures' articulation (or lack thereof) is never brought up again in the movie.
- Unnecessary pop-culture reference of Ghostbusters, with Ghostbusters Ecto-1 car.
- The deaths of Marla and Charlie's parents are never brought up again after a single moment.
- The different areas within the Playmobil world are all the different themes the company produced sets for, such as western, Viking, Medieval, etc., which are all very generic and uninspired, some are passed through without any comment on.
- As mentioned in #1, the fact that the movie is based on Playmobil is mostly treated as an afterthought since the animated world's treated mostly like any other animated world in contrast to The Lego Movie, which took full advantage of the limitless nature of the toys.
- It is filled to the brim with unfunny jokes that make absolutely no sense. At times, they'll make jokes even in the most unnecessary situations.
- Some plot elements are never explained, such as how Marla got the gold in the first place and the aforementioned lighthouse mystery.
- The plot is inconsistent. At first, it is about two people dealing with Playmobil, then Marla, the sister, has to rescue her brother. She meets up with some random guy who suddenly becomes one of the main characters, and from there, it continuously switches up genres, making it extremely confusing.
- Dated references, such as the floss dance.
- Despite never being mentioned again, Marla and Charlie's parents' death is a powerful, albeit saddening way to open the film.
- The animation is pretty good. The characters' faces are cute, and the environments are colorful.
- Good voice acting, despite the slew of misused talent, and the cast, particularly Anya-Taylor Joy, have solid singing voices, which make the songs a little less weak.
- Run Like The River is a pretty decent song, despite how poorly-integrated into the movie it is.
- Adam Lambert does at least offer a fun performance.
- There is an awesome cameo of an electric vehicle called the Porsche Taycan.
Playmobil: The Movie received very overwhelmingly negative reviews by critics and audiences, for being a perceived feature-length advertisement; most criticism was of the cliché characters, writing, poor storytelling, generic songs, and worldbuilding problems, with several negative comparisons to The Lego Movie. The film has a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but for some reason, it got a 62% audience score on the same site, and according to the site's critical consensus reads: "Much like the toys it advertises, Playmobil: The Movie seems sadly destined to be regarded as a superficially similar yet less desirable alternative to the competition.". On Metacritic, it had a 25/100 "Generally unfavorable reviews" with a 2.2/10 user score rating on the same site, and a 4.6/10 on IMDb. Also, it proved to be a major box-office bomb, similar to another STX production, UglyDolls, in the United States, grossing only $13.5 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. Many factors caused this, such as the lack of marketing (a budget of $3 million was put into advertising) and Frozen 2 being a big hit, and the fact that it was released months earlier in other countries.
The movie had abysmal marketing on the United States, with only two trailers that were very vague about the actual plot of the film and a few posters that painted Rex Dasher as the protagonist.
It was reported that theaters sold tickets for only five dollars, meaning that they didn't have much faith in the movie doing well. It also has the fourth worst box-office opening of all time in over 2,000 theaters, and the worst opening in over 2,300 theaters ($660,000, averaging $280 per theater). For comparison, Arctic Dogs, which opened in over 2,800 theaters, grossed $2.9 million on its opening weekend, averaging $1,020 per theater.
On its third weekend, Playmobil was dropped by 95% of its theaters.
- Playmobil has the worst-ever opening in over 2,300 theaters.
- For the North American release, the first hybrid movie overall to use the 2019 MPA logo.
- The film was originally going to be distributed by Open Road in the USA, but when that studio went bankrupt, STX acquired the distribution rights.
- The film was originally going to be produced by Sony Pictures Animation and directed by Bob Persichetti, who would later be the director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.