It must have been a great pitch: DEAD POETS SOCIETY meets RAMBO meets RANSOM OF THE RED CHIEF meets THE GODFATHER. This must have sounded like the perfect prescription for box-office success to some clueless studio executive. Horrifyingly, TOY SOLDIERS was made. The film opens in an unidentified Latin American country, where evil terrorist Luis Cali (Andrew...read more
It must have been a great pitch: DEAD POETS SOCIETY meets RAMBO meets RANSOM OF THE RED CHIEF meets THE GODFATHER. This must have sounded like the perfect prescription for box-office success to some clueless studio executive. Horrifyingly, TOY SOLDIERS was made.
The film opens in an unidentified Latin American country, where evil terrorist Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff) has taken over the capital building. This evil Latin American terrorist, who has a pony-tail and wears what seems to be ensembles from the Gap, throws a woman off a balcony and dumps a judge
from his helicopter to make his point. He is angry because the US has kidnapped his drug-kingpin father and carried him to the States to stand trial. Somehow or other, we end up in the US at a bucolic Eastern prep school called Regis. Regis is where the super-wealthy dump their delinquent sons
when they've been kicked out of everywhere else. These troubled heirs are presided over by their big bad, black nanny, Dean Parker (Louis Gosset, Jr.). The worst of the students is a thickheaded lump named Billy Tepper (Sean Astin), who has an authority problem.
Somehow Cali and his honchos end up at Regis and hold these worthless brats ransom in return for the kingpin father. Miraculously enough, the terrorists turn out to be dumber than the prep-school students, who stage a rebellion and prove themselves to be real fighting men. Somehow both the FBI
and the Mafia become involved in the fracas. And somehow Dean Parker stages his own vigilante attack on the terrorists, with truly ludicrous effects. All this is glued together with a huge dose of helicopters, machine guns, torture and, of course, arbitrary explosions.
The biggest disappointment in TOY SOLDIERS is that not enough prep-school students get gunned down. It's always the Colombian woman in the tacky dress or the frumpy school teacher who bites the bullet and never the ones we really want to get wasted. And after a while we loose interest because we
know that these hunky prepsters aren't so much as going to get their frisbees singed. So what, exactly, are we supposed to be watching if there is no real suspense? Maybe the high-profile actors like Lou Gosset, Jr. and Denholm Elliot, who turn in those polite yet vacant performances that only
money can buy. Or we can watch the doltish cinematography that lovingly caresses every car or jeep that it touches; that lingers coyly over explosions; that swoons over helicopters. And, if we're really fearless, we can watch the wooden performances of the young actors. They're supposed to be real
hellcats. But if they were really hellcats, they'd join up with the terrorists and genuinely piss off their parents. Instead, they instantly turn into good little soldiers. As if to say that in the heart of every misunderstood delinquent lies the burning soul of a lil' Schwarzkopf.
The man responsible for the script and direction is Daniel Petrie, Jr., who wrote the screenplay for BEVERLY HILLS COP and obviously got a lot of money to make TOY SOLDIERS. Unfortunately, Petrie's idea of dramatic tension is to expose more boyish flesh as the movie progresses. And as more and
more lumpy young pectorals are flashed, more and more people and objects are exploded. All this is accompanied by a persistently obnoxious soundtrack that features patriotic fanfares. And as the four different plots bump into each other like blinded laboratory animals, we begin to feel empathy if
not pity for everyone involved. Yet if we are completely baffled by what we've seen, we shouldn't be. It would all be too clear if we saw the paychecks. (Excessive violence.)
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