5 Reasons Toys Is a Secret Holiday Classic Film
Everyone has his or her favorite holiday film that serves as a tradition. Some people go with the staples like em>It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story, while other branch out with more off-the-cuff fare like Die Hard and Scrooged.
For me it's Barry Levinson's 1992 flop Toys, starring Robin Williams.
The story of a man who inherits his father's toy business and then must defend it from his nefarious uncle who hopes to convert it into a weapon manufacturer, the film utterly tanked when it hit theaters back in the '90s. It made back only half its budget, holds a 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for a Golden Raspberry. That's harsh because it is a really fantastic film that deserves to be lauded for the genius it clearly is. Today, I make that case.
5. The Story: Every great Christmas movie has to have a change in your main character that alters him from a state unsuitable for the holiday into one more appropriate. Ebeneezer Scrooge learns charity, Frank Cross realizes the value of human connections, and John McLane uses selfless heroism as a vehicle to win back his wife's heart and restore his family.
Williams as Leslie Zevo also goes through an important change. Though he starts out as a brilliant but feckless member of the Zevo Toys family, through the process of investigating his Uncle Leland's plots and fighting against those aims he embodies one of the most important Christmas lessons of all; that we have to protect the world, and childhood innocence as much as possible. That's not just saving one man's Christmas. It's saving many people's Christmases for years to come.
4. The Cast: One of the reasons a film like Scrooged endures is because you've got an amazing lead surrounded by perfect support. Toys Has that beat in spades. You've got Robin Williams exactly halfway between being the coke-addled manic comedian phase of his career and his more sedate work as a serious actor, which lends both depth and energy to his performance. Joan Cusack plays his sister Alsatia with all the incredible weirdness that she's capable of, and LL Cool J is their insecure but tactically brilliant military scout cousin who switches sides in the fight to preserve Zevo.
Michael Gambon comes on board as General Leland Zevo, who is bequeathed the factory on his brother's death bed as his brother feels Leslie is too immature to handle it. Gambon eats every inch of scenery as a bitter man eaten up with no wars to win glory in, who decides to secure his legacy through changing his brother's toys into implements of remote destruction. It seemed silly until you realize...
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