Toy Soldiers (1991 film)

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Toy Soldiers
Toy Soldiers.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Daniel Petrie, Jr.
Produced by Mario Kassar
Mark Burg
Chris Zarpas
Written by David Koepp
Daniel Petrie, Jr.
William P. Kennedy (novel)
Starring Sean Astin
Wil Wheaton
Keith Coogan
Andrew Divoff
Mason Adams
Denholm Elliott
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Music by Robert Folk
Cinematography Thomas Burstyn
Edited by Michael Kahn
Production
company
Island World
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • April 26, 1991 (1991-04-26)
Running time 111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Spanish
Budget $10 million
Box office $15,073,942 (US) (sub-total)

Toy Soldiers is a 1991 American action drama film directed by Daniel Petrie, Jr., with a screenplay by Petrie and David Koepp. It stars Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Louis Gossett, Jr., Andrew Divoff, Mason Adams and Denholm Elliott.

The plot revolves around an all-male boarding school overtaken by terrorists. While the authorities remain helpless, a group of rebellious and mischievous students decide to put their resourcefulness to good use.[1]

Plot[edit]

In Barranquilla, Colombia, a terrorist by the name of Luis Cali has taken over the Palace of Justice with a ruthless team of mercenaries. He demands the release of his drug kingpin father, Enrique Cali, only to be told that his father has already been delivered to the United States for trial. They escape by helicopter and with the weapons and logistics assistance of Luis' second-in-command, an American named Jack Thorpe, they enter the U.S. through Mexico.

In the United States, the Regis High School is a prep school for teenage boys with wealthy and influential parents, half of whom have been expelled from other schools. A group of pranksters led by Billy Tepper that includes Joey Trotta, Hank Giles, Ricardo Montoya, Jonathan Bradberry, and Phil Donoghue is carefully watched over by their teachers and the stern but well-meaning Dean Parker.

Phil's father is the Federal Judge presiding over Enrique Cali's trial, so he is taken to a safe location as a precaution. Unaware of this, Luis Cali invades the school to capture him, callously killing those who get in the way. Furthermore they rig the campus with heavy firearms and remote-detonated explosives. With Phil nowhere to be found and the sons of numerous influential individuals in his grasp, Luis takes the entire school hostage.

Underestimating the threat, the local Sheriff attempts to intervene but is repelled by fire from a .50 caliber M2 machine gun. The FBI and US Army are called in, keeping their distance to avoid provoking the terrorists. Luis releases the school faculty (except for the headmaster, Robert Gould) but institutes hourly headcounts to keep track of the boys.

The students, under Billy's leadership, use their expertise in skirting authority to collect tactical information about the occupying forces, which Billy covertly brings to the authorities on the outside. They won't allow Billy to return, but with Parker's encouragement, he escapes and narrowly rejoins the students in time to be counted, preventing the killing of Gould and four students in response.

Joey's father, New York mafia boss Albert Trotta arranges through Luis' father for the boy to be released. Joey, contemptuous of his father, refuses to go. He steals a weapon and opens fire on another terrorist, but is killed. Luis tries to impress upon Parker, who comes to retrieve the body, that it was an accident, but Albert takes revenge by having Enrique Cali killed in prison.

Knowing they must act before Luis can learn of his father's death, the authorities undertake a rescue mission. Special Forces (trailed by Parker) covertly infiltrate the school and begin taking out terrorists. Meanwhile, Billy and his friends sabotage the detonator for the explosives, incapacitate several more terrorists with surprise attacks and lead the students and Gould to a secret basement chamber. Overwhelmed by the assault, Luis takes Billy at gunpoint and holds him in Gould's office, where Parker and commandos converge and kill him, the Dean being wounded in the process. The remaining terrorists are subdued and the students are liberated.

Characters[edit]

Regis School
Terrorists
Authorities

Production[edit]

The film was based on a novel by William P. Kennedy, the screenplay was written by the director Daniel Petrie, Jr. and David Koepp who has been responsible for many Hollywood blockbusters such as Jurassic Park. The main antagonist of the film was portrayed by Andrew Divoff, who has mentioned that his role as Luis Cali was his favourite role as a bad guy. The film was distributed by TriStar Pictures in the US and Warner Bros. Pictures overseas.

There is a real private school named Regis High School, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, although this school is a Jesuit school unlike the fictional school in the film which is not. The location of the fictional Regis School in the film is not geographically defined. The school's exterior scenes were filmed at The Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, Virginia. Other exterior scenes were filmed in San Antonio, Texas, Richmond, Virginia and Waynesboro, Virginia.

Awards[edit]

For their performance in Toy Soldiers, Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan, T.E. Russell and George Perez were nominated for Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture by the Thirteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards 1990-1991.

They lost narrowly to Donovan McCrary, Desi Arnez Hines II and Baha Jackson for their performance in Boyz n the Hood.[2]

Criticism[edit]

The film was highly criticized for its violence.[3][4][5]

Reception[edit]

Reviews were mixed. Roger Ebert gave the film one star out of a possible four, stating that "Since the plot of the movie is utterly predictable, we hope at least for some cleverness in the gimmicks. Here the movie is so disappointing that I wonder if the screenwriters were really trying."[6] Critic Clint Morris was more favorable stating "The performances are rock solid". Toy Soldiers currently maintains a 36% "rotten" score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No. 3 on its opening weekend in the United States[7] and grossed $15,073,942 nationwide during its run.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New York Times
  2. ^ Youngartistawards.org
  3. ^ Kehr, Dave (1991-04-26). "Rambo Joins The Dead Poets Society In `Toy Soldiers`". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  4. ^ "Bad Boys Turn Good In Slick `Toy Soldiers`". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  5. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1991-04-26). "Toy Soldiers as Ludicrous as Its Premise". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  6. ^ Observer-Reporter – Google News Archive Search
  7. ^ Fox, David J. (1991-04-30). "Weekend Box Office : 'Dances,' 'Lambs' Lose Ground". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  8. ^ "Toy Soldiers (1991) – Box Office Mojo". BoxOfficeMojo.com. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]