Alan Abernathy (Gregory Smith) works at his dad's toy store.
The place gets next to no business (Alan's father insists on stocking
only non-violent merchandise), it looks like an antique shop or
a toy museum, and Alan hardly has anything to do when he's there.
But one day, while his dad's away, he orders some soldiers from
a new line being promoted by the Globotech company.
The company is owned by business cutthroat Gil Mars (Denis
Leary), and his plan is to offer toys that actually do
something. He and his two top staffmen, Larry Benson (Jay Mohr)
and Irwin Wayfair (David Cross), come up with a new set of action
figures that contain munitions computer chips obtained illegally
from the U.S. defense department. There are two factions: the
Gorgonites, a group of non-violent, Tolkein-esque misfits from
the planet Gorgon; and their mortal enemies, the Commando Elite
force, who are obviously patterned after U.S. Marines or special
forces soldiers. Though the Gorgonites, headed by Archer (voice
of Frank Langella) are harmless and only want to be left alone,
the commandos, whose Patton-like leader is Major Chip Hazard (voice
of Tommy Lee Jones), insist on wiping them out, apparently only
because they are different.
As the war between the toys escalates, Alan and his girlfriend
Christy (Kirsten Dunst) get involved, and what follows is a full-throttle
romp through the world of pointless violence. While the "smart"
toys ruthlessly battle against anyone who stands in their way,
employing homemade guns, bombs and flamethrowers, the humans are
no less vicious, running over the small plastic soldiers with
lawn mowers and setting them on fire, while the little victims
scream and groan realistically as in a real war. And we are supposed
to cheer. Even the Gorgonites, who claim to be non-violent, only
succeed in the end by adopting a warlike stance, finally joining
in the combat with considerable zeal.
Stan Winston's special effects are admittedly impressive in
this film. And there are quite a few humorous references to old
war movies like Patton (1970) and Apocalype Now
(1979). Also clever is director Dante's choice to employ actors
from the original Dirty Dozen to play the commando characters,
including Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Clint Walker, and George
But I was surprised at how boring it is, considering the potential of such an interesting idea. What lessons do we learn here? That what American military forces do best is destroy peace-loving cultures? That violence is the only way to deal with adversity? Or that the best way to succeed in the toy industry is to abandon taste and morality? You decide; I'm not ever going to watch this film again. **½
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