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.