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.[4]

Toys
Toys poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBarry Levinson
Written by
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyAdam Greenberg
Edited byStu Linder
Music by
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 18, 1992 (1992-12-18) (United States)
  • March 5, 1993 (1993-03-05) (United Kingdom)
  • April 1, 1993 (1993-04-01) (Australia)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million[2]
Box office$23.3 million[3]

The film was a box-office failure 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).[5] It was also entered into the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

PlotEdit

Kenneth Zevo, owner of Zevo Toys in Moscow, Idaho, is dying. He surprises his assistant, Owen Owens, by announcing that instead of his son Leslie succeeding him, his younger brother, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Leland Zevo, will do so. Even Leland, whose relationship with Kenneth is strained, is surprised, noting 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 jeopardize the company. Kenneth had even hired Gwen Tyler to work in the factory, hoping she and Leslie would start a relationship to help Leslie mature. Leland reluctantly takes control after Kenneth's death, and since Leslie and his sister Alsatia know about toymaking, he first decides to effectively give them control of 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 is inspired to build war toys, even though Leslie explains that Zevo Toys has never made war toys due to Kenneth's overall dislike of war, which caused the strained relationship with his brother. Meanwhile, Leslie finally notices Gwen, and they start dating.

One night, Leland and Patrick go into town, where they peruse a video arcade, watching children play intently at the flickering game consoles. Going to a local toy store, Leland is amazed at what other companies have produced regarding war toys. As they drive back to the countryside, Leland and Patrick stop at a small pond, and Leland soon realizes that if military aircraft and hardware could be shrunken down and operated by remote control, military spending could become less cumbersome.

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 avoid the area, fearing that his toys may not be good enough. Unknown to Leslie, Leland is using the space to develop miniature remotely controlled war machines, 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, shrinking other departments and shutting down Alsatia's, effectively laying off numerous workers. When Leslie sees children being led into a restricted area, he sneaks in and discovers Leland training children to operate the miniature war machines with arcade-like interfaces. Leslie barely escapes the "Sea Swine" amphibious drone guarding an exit, and flees to Gwen's house to reveal his findings. Unbeknownst to him, Leland, aware of Leslie's discovery, prepares to defend his parts of the factory, promoting himself to general of his own army. Patrick learns Leland lied about his mother's death and quits to warn Leslie.

Leslie, Alsatia, Patrick, Gwen, and Owen infiltrate the factory and then disperse to locate the main control center. Leland takes the opportunity to unleash some cute-yet-deadly toys, before setting his military-style "Tommy Tanks" and "Hurly-Burly Helicopters" on them. Leslie, Alsatia, Gwen and Owen end up finding their way into a storage warehouse, where he had the older Zevo Toys stored. Devising a plan, Leslie winds up the old toys and puts them to battle against Leland's war machines. He then 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 as 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 over the factory and continues his relationship with Gwen, and Alsatia is fully repaired. Owen continues to work at Zevo, and Patrick prepares to depart for other missions, but remains with the others long enough to attend a brief memorial to Kenneth.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film's sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. The influence of René Magritte's art is obvious in the set design and in some of the costume design. The poster distributed to movie theaters featuring Williams in a red bowler hat against a blue, cloud-lined background evokes The Son of Man. Golconda is 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. The film's design was also influenced by Dadaism, Modernism and Italian Futurism—notably the work of Fortunato Depero.

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.

SoundtrackEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Winter Reveries" (Excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1)Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Trevor HornShirley Walker Orchestra2:03
2."The Closing of the Year" (Main Theme)Trevor Horn, Hans ZimmerThe Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa3:28
3."Ebudæ"Enya, Roma RyanEnya1:49
4."The Happy Worker"Horn, Bruce WoolleyTori Amos4:19
5."Alsatia's Lullaby"ZimmerJulia Migenes and Hans Zimmer4:16
6."Workers"Horn, WoolleyThe Musical Cast of Toys featuring Tori Amos1:11
7."Let Joy and Innocence Prevail" (Instrumental)Horn, ZimmerPat Metheny4:59
8."The General"ZimmerMichael Gambon and Hans Zimmer2:21
9."The Mirror Song"Horn, Woolley, DolbyThomas Dolby with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack4:35
10."Battle Introduction"ZimmerRobin Williams2:45
11."Welcome to the Pleasuredome" (Into Battle Mix)Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Mark O'TooleFrankie Goes to Hollywood4:59
12."Let Joy and Innocence Prevail"Horn, ZimmerGrace Jones5:01
13."The Closing of the Year / Happy Workers" (Reprise)Horn, Woolley, ZimmerThe Musical Cast of Toys (including Wendy & Lisa and Seal) ("Happy Workers" reprise: Jane Siberry)5:28
Total length:47:14

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.

Video gameEdit

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.[7] 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.

Home videoEdit

The film was released on VHS in 1993 and DVD on October 16, 2001.[8]

ReleaseEdit

PromotionEdit

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[9] was parodied on the TV show The Simpsons in the episode "Burns' Heir", substituting Mr. Burns for Williams.

Box officeEdit

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.[10] The film would ultimately gross $23,278,931 in North America,[3] making it a commercial failure based on a $50 million budget.[2]

Critical responseEdit

The film has an approval rating of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews, and an average score of 4.5/10. 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."[11] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[12]

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."[13] 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."[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Toys (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 23, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "'A Few Good Men' again tops weekend box office". United Press International. News World Communications. December 21, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Toys (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  4. ^ Williams, Robin; Gambon, Michael; Cusack, Joan; Wright, Robin (December 18, 1992), Toys, retrieved May 8, 2017
  5. ^ "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1993 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Toys on GameSpot
  8. ^ "Announcements". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2001. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  9. ^ "Toys Trailer". TrailerMaddness. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  10. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 18-20, 1992". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. December 21, 1992. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  11. ^ "Toys (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  12. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 18, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEWS Overstuffed 'Toys'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  14. ^ Peter Travers (December 18, 1992). "A review of Toys". Rolling Stone.

External linksEdit