Toys is a 1992 American fantasy comedy film directed by Barry Levinson, co-written by Levinson and Valerie Curtin, and starring Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J, and Jamie Foxx in his feature film debut. Released in December 1992 in the United States, and March and April 1993 in the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively, the film was produced by Levinson's production company Baltimore Pictures and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Despite appearing somewhat juvenile at first glance, the movie garnered a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for some language and sensuality.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Levinson|
|Edited by||Stu Linder|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$23.3 million|
The film was a box office bomb at the time of its release, despite its cast and filmmaking. Director Barry Levinson was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director (losing to David Seltzer for Shining Through). The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction (losing to Howards End) and Costume Design (losing to Bram Stoker's Dracula). It was also entered into the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.
Kenneth Zevo, owner of Zevo Toys in Moscow, Idaho, is dying. He surprises his assistant, Owen Owens, with his desire that, instead of his son Leslie succeeding him, it will be his older brother Leland, who is a lieutenant general in the US Army. Even Leland, whose relationship with Kenneth is strained, is surprised, pointing out how Leslie has been apprenticed at the toy factory most of his life. Kenneth agrees Leslie loves toys and his work, but his childlike demeanor would be detrimental to the company. Kenneth had even hired Gwen Tyler to work in the factory, hoping she and Leslie would start a relationship that would help Leslie mature. Kenneth passes away and Leland reluctantly takes control. His first thought is to simply allow Leslie and his sister, Alsatia, to continue to design new toys and effectively run the factory. However, Leland's interest is piqued upon hearing about corporate secrets potentially being leaked, and he hires his son, Patrick, a soldier with covert military expertise, to manage security. From Patrick, Leland gets the idea of building war toys, even though Leslie points out that Zevo Toys has never made war toys due to Kenneth's dislike of war in general, which caused the strained relationship with his brother. Meanwhile, Leslie finally notices Gwen, and they start dating.
Leland offers to drop the idea of Zevo Toys making war toys, but asks Leslie if he can partition off a small amount of the factory to develop toys of his own. He asks Leslie to stay out of the area for fear that his toys may not be good enough. Unknown to Leslie, Leland is using the space to develop miniature war machines that can be controlled remotely, aspiring to sell these to the military. However, military leaders refuse to buy into his plan, and Leland, becoming unhinged by their refusal, moves ahead with his plan independently. He increasingly takes over the factory's space and increases security. When Leslie sees children being led into one of these areas, he sneaks in and discovers Leland training children to operate the miniature war machines with arcade-like interfaces. Leslie flees before he is discovered, barely escaping the "Sea Swine" amphibious drone guarding an exit, and makes his way to Gwen's house to reveal his findings. Unbeknownst to him, Leland is aware of Leslie's discovery and prepares to defend his parts of the factory, promoting himself to general of his own army. Patrick learns Leland lied about the death of his mother and quits to warn Leslie.
Leslie, Alsatia, Patrick, Gwen, and Owen go to the factory to fight against Leland, using Zevo's toys against Leland's war machines. Leslie manages to get to Leland, and during a fight, Leland's helicopter attempts to hit Leslie with a missile but misses and hits Leland's control panel, which shuts down all the military toys. As Leslie and Patrick confront Leland, Alsatia is attacked by the Sea Swine and is revealed to be a robot, built by Kenneth to be a companion for Leslie after the death of his mother. As Leslie and Patrick tend to Alsatia, Leland tries to escape, but the Sea Swine attacks him. As Leland is hospitalized, Leslie takes control of the factory and continues his relationship with Gwen, and Alsatia is fully repaired. Owen continues to work at Zevo, and Patrick prepares to leave to take on other missions, but remains with the others long enough to attend a brief memorial to Kenneth.
- Robin Williams as Leslie Zevo
- Michael Gambon as Lieutenant General Leland Zevo
- Jack Warden as Old General Zevo
- Joan Cusack as Alsatia Zevo
- Robin Wright as Gwen Tyler
- LL Cool J as Captain Patrick Zevo
- Donald O'Connor as Kenneth Zevo
- Arthur Malet as Owen Owens
- Jamie Foxx as Baker
- Julio Oscar Mechoso as Cortez
- Blake Clark as Hogenstern
- Yeardley Smith as Researcher Miss Drum
- Wendy Melvoin as Choir Soloist
- Debi Mazar as Nurse Debbie
Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film's sumptuous sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. René Magritte's art, particularly The Son of Man, is obvious in its influence on the set design, and in part the costume design, of the film. The poster distributed to movie theaters features Williams in a red bowler hat against a blue, cloud-lined background. Golconda is also featured during a sequence where Williams and Cusack's characters perform in a music video sequence rife with surreal imagery, much of it Magritte-inspired. Other influences on the film's design are Italian Futurism, most notably the work of Fortunato Depero, and a cross section of Dadaists and Modernist artists.
The film has often been noted for many of its outdoor scenes, which feature the Palouse region. All of the outdoor scenes, including the trailer, were filmed on location in southeastern Washington near Rosalia, and north-central Idaho.
|1.||"Winter Reveries" (Excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1)||Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Trevor Horn||Shirley Walker Orchestra||2:03|
|2.||"The Closing of the Year" (Main Theme)||Trevor Horn, Hans Zimmer||The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa||3:28|
|3.||"Ebudæ"||Enya, Roma Ryan||Enya||1:49|
|4.||"The Happy Worker"||Horn, Bruce Woolley||Tori Amos||4:19|
|5.||"Alsatia's Lullaby"||Zimmer||Julia Migenes and Hans Zimmer||4:16|
|6.||"Workers"||Horn, Woolley||The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Tori Amos||1:11|
|7.||"Let Joy and Innocence Prevail" (Instrumental)||Horn, Zimmer||Pat Metheny||4:59|
|8.||"The General"||Zimmer||Michael Gambon and Hans Zimmer||2:21|
|9.||"The Mirror Song"||Horn, Woolley, Dolby||Thomas Dolby with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack||4:35|
|10.||"Battle Introduction"||Zimmer||Robin Williams||2:45|
|11.||"Welcome to the Pleasuredome" (Into Battle Mix)||Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Mark O'Toole||Frankie Goes to Hollywood||4:59|
|12.||"Let Joy and Innocence Prevail"||Horn, Zimmer||Grace Jones||5:01|
|13.||"The Closing of the Year / Happy Workers" (Reprise)||Horn, Woolley, Zimmer||The Musical Cast of Toys (including Wendy & Lisa and Seal) ("Happy Workers" reprise: Jane Siberry)||5:28|
The "Into Battle" mix of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was created for the movie by the song's original producer Trevor Horn and is exclusive to the Toys Soundtrack album.
A video game based on the film, Toys: Let the Toy Wars Begin!, was released in 1993 for the Super NES and Genesis platforms by Absolute Entertainment. The game is played from an isometric perspective, and involves the player, as Leslie Zevo, attempting to destroy the elephant-head security cameras in the factory, cafeteria, and warehouse levels in order to shut down those defenses. Once the player gets to the Manhattan model, the game switches to a side-scrolling flying shoot-'em-up stage, where the player must fly all the way to the General's control center, shut down the production of the war toys, and save the good name of Zevo Toys.
The film was released on DVD and VHS on October 16, 2001.
The film was publicized with a trailer that featured Williams walking through a large undulating field of green grass, breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. This trailer was parodied on the TV show The Simpsons in the episode "Burns' Heir", substituting Mr. Burns for Williams.
Toys was released in 1,272 venues, earning $4,810,027 and ranking sixth in its opening weekend, second among new releases behind Forever Young. The film would ultimately gross $23,278,931 in North America, making it a commercial failure based on a $50 million budget.
The film received a generally negative reaction from critics. It currently holds a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews, with an average of 4.05/10. The website's consensus reads, "Like a colorfully overengineered gewgaw on the shelf, Toys might look like fun, but its seemingly limitless possibilities lead mainly to confusion and disappointment." Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "C+" on scale of A+ to F.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times stated that what made the film "that much sadder a failure is that everyone involved must have sincerely felt they were doing the Lord's work, care and concern going hand in hand with an almost total miscalculation of mood. Even Robin Williams, so lively a voice in "Aladdin", is on beatific automatic pilot here, preferring to be warm and cuddly when a little of his energy (paradoxically on splendid display in the film's teaser trailer) is desperately called for. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas seems to have stripped the life from this film as well, leaving a pretty shell, expensive but hollow, in its place." Peter Travers wrote in the Rolling Stone: "To cut Toys a minor break, it is ambitious. It is also a gimmicky, obvious and pious bore, not to mention overproduced and overlong."
- "Toys (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 23, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "'A Few Good Men' again tops weekend box office". United Press International. News World Communications. December 21, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Toys (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- Williams, Robin; Gambon, Michael; Cusack, Joan; Wright, Robin (December 18, 1992), Toys, retrieved May 8, 2017
- "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- "Berlinale: 1993 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
- Toys on GameSpot
- "Announcements". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2001. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
- "Toys Trailer". TrailerMaddness. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for December 18-20, 1992". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. December 21, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Toys (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
- "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
- Turan, Kenneth (December 18, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEWS Overstuffed `Toys'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
- Peter Travers (December 18, 1992). "A review of Toys". Rolling Stone.