In a disastrous throwback to his roots as a TV sketch writer, Barry Levinson created one of 1992's most notable flops in TOYS, a schmaltzy variety-show routine inflated into a rudderless mess of a fantasy. Dying of a heart ailment, toymaker Kenneth Zevo (Donald O'Connor) entrusts his
factory to his brother, an army general (Michael Gambon) with no more wars to fight. Zevo has a son, Leslie (Robin Williams), and a daughter, Alsatia (Joan Cusack), but he feels his children are too naive and innocent to run the factory. Upon the death of his brother, the General turns the
once-happy factory into an oppressive assembly line. Leslie is left to supervise the manufacture of the simple, harmless toys that had made Zevo famous, while the General converts the plant into a manufacturing center for toys of war and destruction, training little boys to operate them through
the use of video games. When Leslie infiltrates the General's security system and discovers his nefarious plans, he determines to stop him.
Trying for a post-modernist melding of THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T and METROPOLIS, the best TOYS can achieve is a cross between a Rankin-Bass Christmas special and THE PAJAMA GAME. Levinson, whose best films (DINER, RAINMAN, AVALON) have been quiet character studies, eliminates character entirely
from TOYS, preferring instead to allow the eye-popping production design by Ferdinando Scarfiotti and art direction by Edward Richardson to dwarf the actors into insignificance. Seemingly, Levinson wants to deliver an important statement via set design, but he has no idea what that important
statement might be.
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: In a disastrous throwback to his roots as a TV sketch writer, Barry Levinson created one of 1992's most notable flops in TOYS, a schmaltzy variety-show routine inflated into a rudderless mess of a fantasy. Dying of a heart ailment, toymaker Kenneth Zevo (D… (more)