[box cover]

Toys

When did Robin Williams become the embodiment of pure evil? It must have been around 1986, when he gave up cocaine and got an Oscar nomination for Good Morning, Vietnam. Perhaps gold-statue fever led to some bad decisions, but at some point — like a lot of comedians — Williams lost his edge and started playing loving fathers (as per the unwatchable Mrs. Doubtfire) or "humorous" saints (Patch Adams). But whatever happened — be it drugs, divorce, or loss of edge — his comic appearances have become a burden on all that is good in the world of movies. What then can be said about 1992's Toys if Williams is not its worst element? Written and directed by Barry Levinson (and with whom fault wholly lies), Toys was Levinson's pet project for years, and only after the successes of Good Morning, Vietnam and Rain Man could he get it made. But like Oliver Stone's similarly misguided The Doors, it suffers from the dreaded "good idea if you're in high school" syndrome, where plots make the most sense when shared between two stoned teenagers. Williams plays Leslie Zevo, the son of a successful but dying toy inventor (Donald O'Connor) who leaves his company to Leslie's uncle Lt. General Leland Zevo (Michael Gambon) in hopes of making Leslie grow up. Bringing in his son Patrick (LL Cool J), Leland makes changes that don't jibe well with Leslie and sister Alsatia (Joan Cusack), but Leslie is distracted by new employee Gwen Tyler (Robin Wright), whom he romances. And when Leland takes over the factory to mastermind his grand scheme of brainwashing children to make them good soldiers, Leslie finally gets motivated to take charge. The thematic thrust of Toys is to tell us (wait for it) that war is bad and the army is mean. Duh. Draped in great production design by Fredinando Scarfiotti, the movie is a beautiful bit of nothing made tortuous as one senses how much money was spent to make something so meaningless. Williams — of all people — does what he can to make things lively, but because the plot is so totally, totally asinine, there's nothing he can do to either help or harm the final results. Fox's DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Trailers, TV spots, featurette, Fox flix trailers. Keep-case.
—DSH



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