A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, despite the title, Toys is not really a children's movie, though its unrealistic universe does play to a kid's POV. There is verbal sexual innuendo, and lead characters have a bedroom scene (nothing shown after the heroine starts taking off her bra). Swearing is at light PG-level. Plot involves the death and burial of an ailing father. Some of Leslie's favorite toys are imitation dog-doo, fake vomit, and other vulgar body-function novelties. Mid-90s jokes about Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, Mother Theresa, and other topics might call for explanations. Political bias is pretty thick: childhood innocence and sweetness vs. a hostile military-industrial complex.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
TOYS is set in a surreal landscape where the amazing Zevo Toys factory stands isolated in endless, green, rolling hills. The dying president of the family-owned wind-up toy and novelty business thinks his man-child son Leslie (Robin Williams) isn't ready to head the company, and he instead wills it to his estranged brother Leland Zevo (Michael Gambon), a general in the US Army. Leland is far more interested in defense, munitions, and espionage than toys, and he soon has the whimsical factory filled with security troops, ID checks, and paranoia. A visit to a video-game parlor full of war-waging kids convinces the increasingly power-mad Gen. Zevo to secretly recalibrate the whole factory. Now it will create miniature, computerized toy-sized weapons (or deadly weapons disguised as playthings). Leslie and a small group of allies discover the conspiracy and try to stop it.
Is it any good?
On a visual-media level, Toys is breathtaking, a pastel- and primary-colored nursery-room world, with optical illusions and false-perspective shots borrowed from great surrealist painters. Even a shameless ad for MTV (Leslie and his crew fake the music-channel to fool guards) is so clever looking one almost doesn't mind. Almost. Sex gags, cussing, and the lack of child characters signify this is a more grownup toy story than Toy Story, but some teens might enjoy its vibe, visions, Robin Williams' energetic patter, and even the naivete of the politics.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: December 18, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: October 16, 2001
- Cast: Donald O'Connor, Jamie Foxx, Joan Cusack, LL Cool J, Michael Gambon, Robin Williams, Robin Wright
- Director: Barry Levinson
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Fantasy
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13