For a minute I wonder if I rented the wrong movie. These are real, human actors: Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) just finished high school and instead of going off to college she confides in her brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) that she’s destined for a life of adventure. But that all ends when a knock on the door reveals a police officer come to tell them their parents are dead. Cut to: a couple of years later, Marla, having put her dreams on hold, is struggling to keep a household going while brother Charlie is disappointed in the distinct lack of adventure in their lives. He runs away one dark and stormy evening and just as Marla tracks him down at some sort of toy convention with a large Playmobil village, they get sucked into it and pop up an animated Lego form.
Marla reanimates as a girl in a sweater set but Charlie is more fortunate, taking the Viking shape he always carried on his bookbag. Landing in the middle of a viking battle, Charlie immediately makes friends but then gets accidentally trebucheted into another land. Marla scoops up some viking gold and chases after him, not realizing her loot makes her a target as well. She hooks up with Del (Jim Gaffigan), purveyor of magical hay, and he agrees to help if she’ll recompense him.
If you walk down the aisles of the Toys R Us Lego section, you’ll find dozens of Playmobil sets, Lego for the younger set. You will find pirates and police officers, dinosaurs and dragons, mermaids and magic yetis. In the film’s universe, all of these disparate sets are connected by a highway. Turns out, a lot of citizens have been going missing lately, so a debonair secret agent named Rex (Daniel Radcliffe) joins them on their quest.
Confused yet? That may be up to 20% my fault but definitely at least 80% the movie’s. Playmobil is appealing directly to small children, dispensing the shackles of story and logic and just hitting them with a spray of a thing and a thing and a thing and a thing. Are they connected? Vaguely, I think. But mostly they show off a wide variety of toy sets available in a toy store near you while keeping up a colourful and frenetic pace.