Toys (film)

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Toys
Toys poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Levinson
Produced by Mark Johnson
Barry Levinson
Written by Valerie Curtin
Barry Levinson
Starring Robin Williams
Michael Gambon
Joan Cusack
Robin Wright
LL Cool J
Donald O'Connor
Jamie Foxx
Music by Hans Zimmer
Trevor Horn
Cinematography

Adam Greenberg

production designer = Ferdinando Scarfiotti [nominated for Academy Award]
Edited by Stu Linder
Production
  company
Baltimore Pictures
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • December 18, 1992 (1992-12-18) (US)
  • March 5, 1993 (1993-03-05) (UK)
  • April 1, 1993 (1993-04-01) (AUS)
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $43 million
Box office $23,278,931 (US)

Toys is a 1992 fantasy comedy film directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J, and Jamie Foxx in his feature film debut.

The film failed at the box office at the time of its release, despite its impressive cast and lavish filmmaking. Levinson was criticized for a lack of plot focus. The magnitude of perceived directorial failure was such that Levinson was consequently nominated for (but did not win) a Razzie Award for Worst Director, for which he lost to David Seltzer for Shining Through. The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction, but lost to Howards End, and Costume Design, but it lost to Bram Stoker's Dracula.[1] It was also entered into the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.[2]

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 for the film distributed to movie theaters features Robin Williams in a red bowler hat against a blue, cloud-lined background. Golconda is also featured during a sequence where Robin Williams and Joan Cusack's characters perform in a music video sequence rife with surreal imagery, much of it Magritte-inspired. Other influences on the design of the film are Italian Futurism, most notably the work of Depero and a cross section of Dada and modernist artist. The great Italian designer, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, spent over one year designing the sumptuous sets for the film which took over every sound stage at Fox studios in Los Angeles.

Plot[edit]

Kenneth Zevo (Donald O'Connor), the owner of the Zevo Toy factory, is dying. He tells his assistant Owen Owens (Arthur Malet) of his desire for the factory to be given to his brother, Lt. Gen. Leland Zevo (Michael Gambon) instead of his son Leslie Zevo (Robin Williams); Kenneth knows that while Leslie has spent his entire life in the factory and loves toys, his child-like demeanor would not help him to be a successful business leader. Kenneth had even gone to lengths to hire Gwen Tyler (Robin Wright) as a factory worker believing Leslie would become attracted to her and she would help him to mature.

Kenneth passes away and Leland reluctantly takes control of the factory. Leland, who still aspires to meet his father's demands to be a 5-star General, lets Leslie and his innocent and childlike sister Alsatia (Joan Cusack) continue designing new toys; during this. However, Leland's interest is piqued when he hears about corporate secrets being leaked, and he hires his son Patrick (LL Cool J), a soldier with covert military expertise, to manage security. From Patrick, Leland gets the idea of building war toys in the factory, but drops the plans after Leslie confronts him on this decision pointing out that Zevo Toys has never made such toys.

Leland offers to drop the idea, but asks Leslie if he could portion off a small amount of the factory to develop toys of his own, asking for Leslie to stay out of the area for fear of 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, the military leaders refuse to buy into his plan, and Leland, becoming unhinged by their refusal, moves ahead with his plan independently. He slowly takes over more and more of the factory space and increases security on these areas. When Leslie sees children being led into one of Leland's secure areas, he finds a way to sneak into the space. Inside, he discovers Leland training the children on operating the miniature war machines. 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 what he saw. Leslie is unaware that Leland has seen his actions through spy toys monitoring the area, and prepares to defend his parts of the factory, becoming more demented and promoting himself to General of his own army. Patrick learns that 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 the Zevo toys against Leland's war machines. Leslie manages to escape and disable Leland's control system for the toys. As Leslie and Patrick confront Leland, Alsatia is attacked by the Sea Swine, but she is revealed to be a robot built by Kenneth to be a companion for Leslie. As Leslie and Patrick tend to Alsatia, Leland tries to escape but the Sea Swine stops and attacks him.

As Leland is hospitalized, Leslie takes control of the factory and continues his relationship with Gwen, while Alsatia is repaired. Patrick prepares to leave to take on further missions, but remains with Leslie and his friends for a brief memorial to Kenneth.

Cast[edit]

Trailer[edit]

The film was publicized with a trailer, which featured Williams walking through a large undulating field of green grass and breaking the fourth wall, while talking to the audience. This trailer[3] was parodied in on the TV show The Simpsons in the episode "Burns' Heir", substituting Mr. Burns for Williams.

Soundtrack[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Performer Length
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. "Ebudae"   Enya, Roma Ryan Enya 1:49
4. "The Happy Worker"   Horn, Bruce Woolley Tori Amos 4:19
5. "Alsatia's Lullaby"   Zimmer Julia Migenes & Hans Zimmer 4:16
6. "Workers"   Horn, Woolley The Musical Cast of Toys 1:11
7. "Let Joy and Innocence Prevail" (Instrumental) Horn, Zimmer Pat Metheny 4:59
8. "The General"   Zimmer Michael Gambon & Hans Zimmer 2:21
9. "The Mirror Song"   Horn, Woolley, Dolby Thomas Dolby with Robin Williams & 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 The Musical Cast of Toys (including Wendy & Lisa and Seal) 5:28
Total length:
47:14

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film, Toys: Let the Toy Wars Begin!, was released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis systems by Absolute Entertainment.[4] The game is played from an overhead 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 Gradius-style level, 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 game was included in an episode of Wez and Larry's Top Tens (In this case, 'Top Ten Worst Movie Licences') and came 4th. It was described by Larry as 'mind-numbingly monotonous', and ended the slot by saying: "This is one 'toy' that you definitely want to keep out of the reach of small children."

Reception[edit]

Toys received a generally negative reaction from critics and failed commercially. 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."[5] 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."[6] The film currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  2. ^ "Berlinale: 1993 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  3. ^ "Toys Trailer". TrailerMaddness. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  4. ^ Toys on Gamespot
  5. ^ Turan, Kenneth (1992-12-18). "MOVIE REVIEWS Overstuffed `Toys'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  6. ^ Peter Travers (18 December 1992). "A review of Toys". Rolling Stone. 
  7. ^ "Toys (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]