Playmobil: The Movie Parent Guide
Don't waste good money paying for a 99 minute long toy commercial.
Parent Movie Review
At Parent Previews, we have a built-in bias against movies that are designed to sell toys to kids. We occasionally suspend our disapproval if a movie’s messages are so positive that they compensate for the commercial subtext (see The Lego Movie). But Playmobil: The Movie is not one of those movies. It is a non-stop commercial for Playmobil toys and no one should have to pay to watch a commercial. At least on TV the commercials are free.
Playmobil: The Movie sets out to be a madcap musical comic adventure story for kids but it has clearly bitten off more than it can chew. The comedy fails: even the kids in the theater didn’t laugh as the jokes landed like bags of wet cement. And the music doesn’t soar. None of the songs were memorable and they didn’t integrate smoothly into the script. Instead of having the songs carry the story or enrich the characters, it simply feels weird to have the characters break into a song and dance number at the beginning of the film – especially when it doesn’t happen again. As for the adventure, there’s lots of that, but you should be warned that it’s composed of non-stop violent set pieces. Thankfully, the bulk of the action involves Playmobil action figures who don’t bleed and whose severed limbs can be easily reattached. But there is still too much violence for younger kids, and I can’t recommend this film for pre-schoolers or early elementary school aged kids.
The story is based on orphaned siblings Marla and Charlie whose thirst for adventure has been derailed by tragedy. For four years, teenaged Marla has raised her brother since the police appeared at their door one night to tell them their parents had died in an accident. Now a rebellious Charlie has snuck out of the house at night. Marla tracks him down, but the pair are caught in the beam of a magic lighthouse and transported to a world populated by Playmobil toys. While they are recovering from the shock of being turned into plastic action figures, Charlie is kidnapped and Marla goes to the rescue. Thus begin multiple scenes of action and intense peril including kids being chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, implied gladiatorial combat, Vikings attacking a village, multiple chase scenes, pirates locking characters in cages, aliens knocking people out, and a particularly disturbing scene where a character is threatened with torture in a dental chair (as if going to the dentist didn’t scare enough kids already…). This script might do a great job of highlighting Playmobil’s play sets, but it is far less effective in creating a movie kids are going to love. There was enough action to keep my own boys watching, but they weren’t able to explain the story to me afterwards. As for adults, this is the kind of movie that has you longing for your phone or blissful unconsciousness.
The messages in this cinematic advertorial don’t make up for its desperate desire to sell toys. The main theme of the movie seems to be that kids should be bold and seize adventure (and buy our toys now!). Other themes include the importance of loyalty and friendship and the pain of betrayal (but get your parents to buy our toys now!). If your family are already into the Playmobil universe, this flick could be a lot of fun. But if you’re not, I can’t think of any reason to subject yourself and your kids to 99 chaotic minutes of “buy our toys now!”Directed by Lino DiSalvo. Starring Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe, and Anya Taylor-Joy. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release December 6, 2019. Updated December 7, 2019
Watch the trailer for Playmobil: The Movie
Playmobil: The Movie
Rating & Content Info
Violence: A child is kidnapped. There are multiple chase scenes in the movie. A helicopter crashes and catches fire. There are several scenes where characters are thrown or catapulted through the air. A character is sent off for gladiatorial combat with a monster. Two characters are chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. There is a scene involving a Viking attack on a village: characters are apparently killed and one hits herself in the head with a mace, knocking herself out. Characters are locked in cages by a pirate. Characters are tied up in ropes and hung over a magical rang that displays perilous locations, including a pit of lava and a pool of sharks. A man almost falls through a spinning fan but escapes unscathed when the fan stops. There is a fistfight. A character sprays people with ice and freezes them. An alien knocks characters out. A giant caterpillar-type creature grabs a girl, squeezes, and threatens her. A girl kicks a character and throws another one over a wall. A girl hits people with saddlebags. Human skeletons are seen in cells. People are put in stocks and things are thrown at them. A character has a teen dragged to a “dentist chair” and is threatened with torture. A robot falls down the stairs: its broken arm is repaired.
Sexual Content: There is an icky moment where an adult man talks about a teenage girl being attracted to him.
Profanity: There is one minor swear word and plenty of name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Vikings drink tankards of what is probably ale. Drugs come up when a man accidentally knocks himself with sleeping drops out and another character collapses after drinking a drugged cocktail. A horse is given “magic hay” and sprouts wings.
Page last updated December 7, 2019
Playmobil: The Movie Parents' Guide
Do you think Charlie was out of line when he told Marla that she died when their parents did? Can you think of better ways Charlie could have handled his feelings of frustration and sadness? How can you deal with family members when you feel sad, angry, or frustrated?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Sibling adventures fill novels for readers of all ages. In The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, siblings Jack and Annie discover a tree house filled with magical books that can whisk them through time and around the world. Suitable for beginning readers.
The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer introduces older children to Alex and Cooper, twin brothers with a magical book that transports them into the world of fairy tales. The first in the series is The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.
Middle grade readers looking for sisterly adventures in a fantasy setting can try Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarre. Shy Princess Addie has to find her courage when her brave sister, Princess Meryl, is struck down by a plague. Facing her fears, Addie sets off into a world of magical monsters to find a cure.
Jessica Day George has written a fairy tale series about twelve sisters for middle grade readers. It begins with Princess of the Midnight Ball and is followed by Princess of Glass, and Princess of the Silver Woods.
Related home video titles:
We’re not fans of movies with tie-ins to toys, but if your kids really want to go that route, The LEGO Movie is the best in the box. It’s been followed by The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, The LEGO Batman Movie, and The LEGO Ninjago Movie, none of which measure up to the first film.
If you’re looking for movies about kids having fantastical adventures, there’s lots to choose from. In Bedtime Stories, two sibs are in for a wild ride when their uncle tells bedtime stories that come to life. Princess Anna tries to save her older sibling, Princess Elsa, whose magical powers are proving dangerous and disruptive, in Frozen. When Simon opens a mysterious book, he becomes aware of a world of dangerous, magical creatures. His siblings help fight them off in The Spiderwick Chronicles. And in Peter Pan, Wendy and her brothers learn to fly and fend off pirates in a night-time adventure.