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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Money can't buy love. Life is unfair. Physical love is the easy part. The hard part is loving someone with your heart. Though it's played for comedy, the fact is that the movie is about a rich white man who "buys" a black man for his son to play with.
Positive Role Models
An unemployed journalist wants to write a book but needs to earn money to keep his home and thus is willing to "sell" his services. He signs on to amuse a 9-year-old boy when the father offers enough money to pay his mortgage. The boy acts out to get attention from his dad and also behaves cruelly toward the hired hand, but eventually the two come to love each other. The journalist's girlfriend is a crusader and organizer against the Ku Klux Klan and racism. A federal indictment hangs over a rich man, presumably for corruption of some kind. To help his own interests, the man tries to trick a senator into publicly socializing with someone the senator doesn't know is a KKK leader.
Violence & Scariness
A Confederate flag is proudly displayed in Bates' office.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman wears extremely low-cut clothing that shows most of her breasts, boasting that her husband paid for their surgical enhancement. A nanny keeps pulling another employee into her bedroom and jumping him until he wiggles free. A man invites a friend into his house and announces that he was about to make love to his girlfriend. The clothing shown in a full-length portrait of a woman disappears at the press of a button, showing her completely nude for a moment. Jack sits on Bates' lap to show him how to demonstrate affection to Bates' son. When someone sees them, the implication is that the men were engaging in gay sex.
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"S--t," "bastard," "t-tties," "ass," and "boobs."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Toy is a 1982 comedy about a spoiled 9-year-old who asks his wealthy, indulgent father to give him the amusing black man he sees playing in the toy department of his father's store. The father pays the man to stay with the child, which certainly raises questions of slavery and ownership. These are mentioned but not sufficiently to erase the movie's underlying ick factor. A large portrait of a nude woman is briefly shown. Language includes "s--t," "ass," "t-tties," and "bastard." Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. A federal indictment hangs over a rich man, presumably for corruption of some kind. To help his own interests, the man tries to trick a senator into publicly socializing with someone the senator doesn't know is a KKK leader. A woman wears extremely low-cut clothing that shows most of her breasts, boasting that her husband paid for their surgical enhancement. Jack sits on Bates' lap to show him how to demonstrate affection to Bates' son. When someone sees them, the implication is that the men were engaging in gay sex. A Confederate flag is proudly displayed in Bates' office. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The comedy in this terrible movie is broad and stale, with Pryor grimacing and chewing the scenery to an embarrassing degree. Given his usual comic brilliance, Pryor's discomfort in The Toy isn't really surprising. But there isn't much even a talent like Pryor could have done with a script that can only be described as stupid. There's no effort in the script to show why an out-of-work journalist, who has no kids nor mentions any interest in them, is particularly goofy and playful, the kind of guy who enjoys playing all by himself in a store's toy department. The schtick is all forced and far beyond the suspension of disbelief category. The level of humor hovers between pedestrian and kindergarten, but language includes "s--t," "bastard," "t-itties" and "ass," suggesting caution be advised with regard to an audience of most young kids.
Gleason, famed for The Honeymooners and TV sketch comedy, was a dramatic standout in The Hustler, but he's utterly dreadful here, stuck with horrible lines and wearing what seems to be a different toupee in every scene. People refer to U.S. Bates as "U.S.," which often deliberately is pronounced "You Ass." When the movie tries to be meaningful, as when Jack advises the 9-year-old about true love, the change in tone from dumbed-down comedy is too abrupt for even good advice -- love with all your heart -- to be taken seriously. All attempts at serious social commentary, like Jack's nods to racism -- "things like truth, justice, and the American way just do not work for me" -- and references to corruption in business and government, in addition to the weak subplot about an anti-KKK group, fall flat.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.