By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Quirky sci-fi underdog tale has mild peril, potty humor.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The boys learn confidence: if they believe in themselves, they are capable of much more than they think. They go from seeing themselves as perpetual "zeroes" to learning their "destiny isn't written in stone." Matt dons a mask to talk to a girl he likes, but realizes she'll like him as just himself too. Knowledge gained in school and by studying could save your life.
Positive Role Models
Kids use knowledge, logic, and cunning to save the world from an adult with malicious plans, stand up to school bullies, and help a depressed scientist get his life back together. Eddie refrains from punching bully Bryce when he's down because he'd be "just like him" otherwise. Father figures are either absent, dead, needy, or evil.
Violence & Scariness
Kids punch and kick each other on the basketball court and off. Two men chase the four boys with clear intentions of doing them harm, and the boys fight back with a poop-spewing super weapon. Weller and his guards sequester the boys in a decked-out guest suite and Jenny is locked in a safe room.
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Mild taunts like "dummy" and "doormat."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The down-and-out Wiz tries to drink from an empty liquor bottle and wakes up with another empty bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Time Toys directly targets tween boys with its underdog story. Here, the nerds beat the bullies and get the girl, and they do it with the help of futuristic toys wielding superpowers, including a poop gun, an intellect-enhancing baseball cap, a futuristic hologram encyclopedia, shoes and gloves that provide speed and strength, and a laser gun that makes people act ridiculously. Language is kept to a bare minimum (mild taunts) and dangers to the kids (being chased, captured) are softened with humor. The down-and-out Wiz tries to drink from an empty liquor bottle and wakes up with another empty bottle.
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What's the Story?
In TIME TOYS, four middle school boys find a box filled with futuristic toys that wield special powers of strength, speed, intelligence, face-shifting, and telling the future. The boys (Griffin Cleveland, J.J. Totah, Jaden Betts, and Samuel Gilbert), a group of misfits who call themselves the "Zeroes," quickly realize there's someone else looking for the box: an evil tech genius and his team of scientists who are developing weapons that will destroy the world. They're the same team behind a company planning an urban development that will knock out the boy's local neighborhood and homes. As the boys are being hotly pursued, they put the toys to use and enlist schoolgirl Jenny (Mackenzie Aladjem) and retired scientist Wiz (Ed Begley Jr.) to defeat the school bullies and the bad guys and save their neighborhood and the world.
Is It Any Good?
This movie offers some positive, believe-in-yourself messages and it has fun in the process. This is thanks to an underdog storyline that bestows cool superpowers on middle school misfits and to the cast, who look like they're having a blast. Veteran actor Greg Germann is especially entertaining as the Silicon Valley-inspired, skateboard-riding, video game-playing, sugar-addicted genius. He strikes just the right balance between dorky stepdad and malicious mastermind. "Whoever controls technology controls everything," he rightly declares.
What's odd in Time Toys, considering that it's clearly targeted at an audience of boys, is the absence of positive adult male role models. Father figures are either absent (Matt and Boomer's dads), dead (Jenny's dad), evil (Jenny's stepdad) or in need of help from the kids (Wiz). Only a hologram of adult Matt from the future offers a healthy and dependable adult male role model. This could support the film's theme of learning self-reliance, but it feels sadly short-sighted in the larger scheme of things.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the lessons the boys learn in Time Toys about themselves, their natural abilities, and the benefits of being smart.
If you could bring a toy with special powers back from the future, what kind of power would you like to have and why?
Did you find the special effects convincing in this film? For example, when Matt's face changed under the mask?
- In theaters: April 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2018
- Cast: Griffin Cleveland, Josie Totah, Jaden Betts, Greg Germann
- Director: Mark Rosman
- Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African actors
- Studio: Madalyn Productions
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: January 17, 2023
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