- Movie Rating -

Toys (1992)

| December 25, 1992

‘Toys’ is as confounding a movie to review. On one hand it is one of the most amazing looking movies ever made. The problem is that the plot it develops (or underdeveloped) is half-written and the message is inane. So how do you rate a movie like this? It’s beautiful to look at but nothing of interest happens to the characters.

The set designs by the late Fernando Scarfiotti are phenomenal. The enormous six-color factory is a sight to behold. These toy-shaped factory machines would have humbled Willy Wonka. There are rooms that look like the inside of a gigantic toy chest. There is a life-sized dollhouse in the movie that opens like a 3 dimensional Christmas card and it is awe-inspiring.

I also liked the music. It opens with a gloriously winsome Christmas song ‘The Closing of the Year’ and continues on with a curiously strange ditty called ‘Happy Workers’. We see the sights and we hear the music that would humble anyone responsible for putting together the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Then we wait for a story and wait and wait and wait. What there is, is very weak.

Robin Williams plays playful Leslie Zevo whose dying father has decided not to leave his factory to his immature son. Nor to his daughter Alsatia (Joan Cusack) who dresses like a doll. Instead he decides to leave the factory to his brother a career military man who is interested in turning out war toys. Later we aren’t surprised to find that he has more sinister motives in mind.

Robin Williams is an inspired choice for this movie. He has some moments that are perfect for him; he has been given a colorful world to play in that seems build for his style of humor. But he is at the mercy of a screenplay that can’t let him use his comic gifts to tell a good story.

The message of ‘Toys’ is painfully inane: Peaceful toys are good and weapons are bad. The movie is agonizingly paced. Even at two hours the movie feels too long. Unlike this movie’s ancestor ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ in which the message seemed was ‘Behave yourself’, the message of this movie gets muddled when peaceful toys begin a toy wars with the weapons.

‘Toys’ was directed by Barry Levinson who has made great films like ‘Diner’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Avalon’ and ‘Bugsy’. The story has it that this movie was a twelve-year odyssey getting it to the screen. If it took him that long to come up with the look of this film, I could have easily given him another twelve years to work on the screenplay, maybe longer.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1992) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized