As Amelia Earhart once said, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” And that’s all Marla wants to do: see the world, go on an adventure and have fun with her little brother, Charlie. But those plans are brought to an abrupt halt when a car crash takes away her parents and she becomes the sole caregiver for Charlie.
It’s been four years, and even though Marla has lost all her former sense of adventure, Charlie hasn’t. He pines for the days when he and his sister would play “Viking and Knight” with their Playmobil set. And Charlie’s longing is soon granted when a magical phenomenon zaps him and Marla into the world of their favorite toys.
Here, Charlie is a Playmobil Viking with super strength. He quickly becomes a hero when he effortlessly defeats the Vikings’ foes. But his newfound capabilities also get him into trouble when the evil Emperor Maximus kidnaps him to fight as a warrior in the Colosseum.
Now, it’s up to Marla to find and rescue her brother before he’s killed in Maximus’ twisted games.
Del (a food truck driver indebted to a mobster) and Rex Dasher (a James Bond-like secret agent) join Marla on her quest. With their help, Marla remembers the girl she used to be and begins to believe that she has the ability to save Charlie.
Marla and Charlie had a very close relationship growing up. But after their parents died, their relationship became strained as Marla was forced into a parent-like role raising her brother. After Charlie gets kidnapped, Marla realizes that she hasn’t been there emotionally for her brother, who is still just a fun-seeking kid. And Charlie realizes that his sister is doing her best and apologizes for his behavior. The two are able to restore their relationship to what it was before their parents’ accident.
Charlie helps several prisoners escape the clutches of Maximus, knowing that he’ll likely be recaptured and put to death for his actions. Del admits he wouldn’t have helped Marla for free after discovering that she lied about having money. However, he overcomes his disappointment and comes to her aid when she needs him. A woman tells Charlie that although she would have terrible fights with her own sisters, they still loved each other no matter what.
When Charlie places his toy Viking onto a Playmobil set in a museum, it sets off a magical ripple effect. A light coming from a toy lighthouse lifts other toys into the air as it shines on them. When Charlie goes to grab his Viking from the light, he and Marla are sucked into the world of Playmobil.
A fairy godmother, complete with wings, grants wishes to various characters. With a wave of her wand, she gives Marla a new dress and heals a black eye. Del tries to sell pink, sparkly hay which gives wings to any creature that eats it. As an added bonus, these creatures also become docile and friendly, spreading glitter wherever they fly.
A character is described as having the voice of an angel and the heart of a devil. Two characters soar on a magic carpet. A wizard is mentioned. In a fairytale castle scene, a unicorn and several other animals help Marla as she prepares to rescue her brother.
Toy Vikings are shirtless. An elderly toy is shocked when someone finds him in a bathtub. A pirate becomes angry with his crew for selling his “booty” for money. Rex Dasher flirts with Marla continuously despite her lack of interest. There are a couple of gender-related jokes. A man and woman hug goodbye.
Different characters mention killing and being killed; we don’t witness anyone’s demise onscreen. (That said, a toy knave is reportedly destroyed offscreen by a monster in the Colosseum.). The other death-related story element, obviously, occurs when police officers inform Marla and Charlie that their parents were killed in a car wreck—an issue that could well be a trigger point for children (especially foster children or adopted children) who’ve dealt with abandonment issues or loss of a family member.
Playmobil toys fight against each other with swords, catapults, axes and other weapons, but there is no bloodshed. And although a few characters might get knocked unconscious, there are no lasting injuries. Similarly, multiple characters take rough tumbles (Del accidentally drives his truck off a cliff at one point), but nobody is injured for more than a few seconds. Marla even tells a guard to “walk it off” after she kicks him off a fortress wall.
Marla and Del are nearly killed when a mobster tries to drop them in a pit of lava. Several vehicles are blown up by Rex Dasher. A man tells a story about offering his crew the chance to join him or be thrown to the piranhas (and two people chose the piranhas). One character gets a black eye when hit by a passport. Several toys are frozen by a freeze ray. An alien character electrocutes guards with her tentacles. Maximus’ palace features several statues of himself standing on and holding the skulls of his enemies. Toy skeletons are seen in a dungeon.
Crude or Profane Language
Language is generally light since no actual curse words are used. However, there are three uses of “heck,” one use of “darn” and one use of “sucks.” And there are a few close calls where characters begin phrases but are cut off before using the undesirable term, including, “oh my …,” “son of a …,” and “what the ….” Someone says “geez.” A caveman character is referred to as a “lower lifeform,” and other insults include “wench,” “idiot,” “scum,” “vile knave,” “jerks,” “pea brain” and “riffraff.”
Drug and Alcohol Content
Someone mentions mead, and several Viking characters drink the stuff. Rex Dasher is rendered unconscious after drinking a drugged martini. Del falls asleep after spilling a sleep serum on himself. The pink, glittering hay that Del tries to sell could be an allusion to drugs since it heavily dilates his customers’ pupils and makes them deliriously happy.
Other Negative Elements
Evil Emperor Maximus’ only goal is to entertain his people by killing the best warriors in the land. However, he also hates his people, considering himself to be superior to them. So he lies to them, saying that the warriors are actually criminals.
Maximus purchases black-market technology from a slug-like woman called Glinara. Del, who owes her money, describes her as someone who has her hands in everything illegal. She is obsessed with money, valuing it far above the lives of others and even kissing it.
Del drives his food truck recklessly, talking on the phone and trying to multitask instead of paying attention to the road. People lie, steal and blackmail others.
Charlie repeatedly disobeys Marla, slamming his door repeatedly, sneaking out of the house and sneaking into a closed museum. Someone makes a crude joke about wolves eating a person. A character impersonates another person to sneak into a secret facility. Charlie’s Viking persona has tattoos (worth noting since he’s really a child). Del jumps into a garbage can thinking that it is a secret passage.
Sometimes, you just need to let go and have an adventure to remind yourself of who you are. Now, typically, that doesn’t involve being sucked into a universe of children’s toys, but apparently, that’s exactly what Marla and Charlie needed.
The two siblings exemplify what it means to love your family no matter what. Sure, you might have bad days, but that’s OK. As long as you do your best and make time for each other, you can get through anything (even kidnapping at the hands of an evil emperor with a pet dinosaur).
Those are great messages. Still, for some families, Playmobil: The Movie will teeter right on the edge of what’s appropriate for their kids. It can be a little scary: man-eating dinosaurs and lava pits aren’t exactly fun. Then there’s the fact that the plot turns on two parents being killed in an accident, something that could be pretty significant for kids coping with real-world loss themselves. And although nobody curses, a few lines of dialogue certainly flirt with unspoken profanity.
Ultimately, Playmobil: The Movie reminds us that you’re never too old to play a game with the ones you love—though some fans of this toy-brand movie may well be too young for its jokes.