I remember that before "The Lego Movie" came out in 2014, I thought it was setting itself up for a disaster. The film seemed to be an animated film made just to try to sell more toys while lacking any heart, creativity, and passion. I was clearly wrong. Whereas "The Lego Movie" ended up being an animated film with tons of heart, creativity, passion, as well as smart writing and direction that made it one of the best of the decade, "Playmobil: The Movie" on the other hand ended up being the disaster I initially expected. I went in with pretty low expectations due to the film taking a long time to get released in the United States and the unimpressive trailers, but I was unprepared for how low this movie would steep. This is not only one of the worst animated films released in the entire year, but it's also quite frankly one of the worst I have seen this entire decade. I have no idea how in the world this got approved.
A young woman named Marla Brenner (Anya Taylor-Joy) is trying to look out for her ten-year-old brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) after their parents were tragically killed in a car accident four years ago. Feeling frustrated with how responsible Marla has become, Charlie runs away and slips into a toy museum where he discovers a Playmobil exhibit. After Marla reaches up with him, they are magically sucked into the Playmobil world and become Playmobil figures themselves with Marla looking like herself and Charlie looking like the fierce warrior he always imagined when he was younger. After Charlie gets captured by an evil emperor named Maximus (Adam Lambert) and taken to the land of Constantinopolis, Marla goes after him to save him along with the help of a food truck driver named Del (Jim Gaffigan) and a dashing secret agent named Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe). Together, they must reach Charlie in time before he and other strong warriors in the Playmobil world are forced to compete for their lives against a mighty beast. That's all you need to know about this film.
While doing some researching on the film, I discovered that Bob Persichetti was initially tied to write and direct this film. He even tried to sell the pitch to Sony Pictures Animation which ultimately fell through and Persichetti left the film to work for Sony and ended up making "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" instead. The film instead was written and directed by Lino DiSalvo, a former animator from Walt Disney Animation Studios who has done some notable work on "Tangled" and "Frozen". Looking back, I really wish that we got the film from Sony Pictures Animation and Persichetti instead because what we got was really terrible. Right from the opening shot, I knew this film was gonna be terrible because it was presenting itself as cliched as possible. Not only is the story painfully generic, but it's also really badly written. It was clear that DiSalvo was really struggling in the director's chair because his direction and writing were terrible at worst and felt amateur at best. While the film's story felt very generic, the script is ultimately what sunk it. It has very generic lines like where Marla says "At least it can't get any worse" and then it starts raining. Maximus says the line "Well, well, well. Look what we have here" which is about as cliche a villain line you can get. Though the line that really pushed me over the edge was at the beginning after Marla scolds Charlie for running away, which is understandable since she's the legal guardian that's now looking over him, he snaps at her "When mom and dad died, you died as well." That line was so tasteless and disgusting that it could've just completely ruined the film right then and there. As for the animation goes, it's very bland. Where in "The Lego Movie", the film's computer animation could be passed off as stop-motion and no one would know the difference, here the animation is obviously made by a computer and it comes off feeling so uninspired and sort of dated. This film is the type of film that would look good in 2013, but not 2019. Also, the film is framed where the real world is shot in live-action while the Playmobil world is animated and it doesn't work. The decision to put live-action in the film leads its way to having some poor cinematography and even worse editing. DiSalvo clearly didn't have the experience that Phil Lord and Chris Miller did when making "The Lego Movie" which made the decision to have a live-action scene almost as if the film was trying to be like "The Lego Movie". As far as the characters go, there all frankly terrible. Marla is such a bland protagonist who doesn't make any improvements, Charlie is a brat that frankly is unlikeable after saying that tasteless line that I mentioned, Del was incredibly annoying and got under my skin quick and Jim Gaffigan's performance was also frankly terrible which reminded me of his performance in the atrocious "Duck Duck Goose", and Maximus was an annoying villain that quite frankly should be studied for how not to write an animated villain. I guess the only character that kind of works is Rex Dasher which Daniel Radcliffe clearly had fun playing considering he wanted to be a spy despite turning down the role of James Bond many times. It's not saying much though. Also, this film is a musical and a really awful one at that. Compared to "Frozen 2" who's songs were beautifully written and instantly memorable, the songs here are terribly written and also very unmemorable. The filmmakers had no idea how to make this film a musical and honestly, they just shouldn't have.
I really have no idea how in the world "Playmobil: The Movie" was released in the state it was in. The story was really bad with some terrible writing, the animation was extremely bland and unappealing, the characters were all annoying and unfunny, and the songs were some of the worst in an animated film in a very long time. This film should go down as a textbook example of how not to make an animated film. It just didn't work out in any way. My advice is to pass up this film and stick with "The Lego Movie" instead. In that film, they declare everything is awesome. In that film, it surely was. This film though is anything but awesome.