Toys and abstract-surrealism have a lot in common. Both have a keen look that needs for ones imagination for their own interpretation. Both seem to have their own audience that understands its purpose of it’s shape more then others. Most notably, both attempt tell something visually without necessary having its own background or story. You might find a four year old playing with blocks. Some may see it as just playing with shapes, but then again, the child is really playing with shapes; he’s looking to see if a particular shape is more interesting then another, twisting and turning them around so that they more form something new.
I know that a lot of toy companies want to make action figures or dolls out of the latest craze in media in order to cash in on it’s popularity with kids, but is there a chance there are people out there that take the interaction of children and toys seriously? I have seen stores that still sell robots, Legos, and play kitchens and such. Without any copyrighted imagery to conflict it’s purpose, it now becomes a tool to both entertain and teach. Children aren’t taken as seriously as they should, but it’s good to see place like these that still care. One company in Toys fights someone that sees kids as cash machines.
Rather then focusing on a real company, Toys creates it’s own surrealist world that seems to combine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Dr. Seuss. The story falls upon the Zevo Toys factory where it’s old owner is about to die. He wants his brother, a Lieutenant General named Leland Zevo (played by Michael Gambon) to take over. Not knowing anything about toys, he thinks that the owner’s son, Leslie Zevo (played by Robin Williams) would be a better candidate. Unlike the general that only understands army tactics, Leslie is more of an idea man who respects the dignity of children and their enjoyment of toys.
General Leland starts to take interest when he hears about possible espionage and leaks. He then brings his in his son Patrick (played by LL Cool J) to take charge in security. The Zevo toys factory then becomes military like operation with gun wielding patrols and struck access enforced. When Leland decides to start making war toys, Leslie becomes dismayed as his father hated war toys and only saw them as fake weapons with no purpose. The more that Leland becomes crazy with his war toys (that have real weapons), the more that Leslie grows angry, and eventually battles back.
Toys is one of those movies that should have been a great movie. It’s got some amazing visuals that look like they were straight out of a surreal painting. The toy factory has a child-like looks colorful. It’s like looking at something from a silent film. The visual setting tries to tell what the story is along with the dialogue. But this is the problem with the movie; it’s very cluttered with trying to be both a visual and spoken story.
I would have wanted a better story to go along with this setting. I have a hard time believing that this war general would receive a toy factory over another man who loves toys. Sure he was immature, but at least he understood toys. Speaking of which, Robin Williams gives another performance that’s decent (I laughed at a couple of jokes), but nothing special. I think if Toys would have been more focused on telling it’s story visually like a silent film, it would have been better. The other problem is that because the movie is PG-13, how do you expect a toy movie that’s not really for children to work? I think that most kids will find this film boring.
I’ll give this two and a half surreal bedrooms out of five. Not for children and not for a mainstream adult audience, I really don’t know who this movie was intended for. Maybe it was going for a snobbish, art-house crowd, but I find it hard to believe that they would consider Toys high class.