Toys in the Attic
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Foreign stop-action film blends the beautiful and grotesque.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's message can be perceived as a tribute to unconditional friendship and the lengths that true friends will go to in order to rescue someone they love.
Positive Role Models
Buttercup's friends all valiantly attempt to save her from the grips of the Head and his minions. Buttercup stands up for herself even though she's also a very maternal character who takes care of her friends.
Violence & Scariness
There's a menacing tone to much of the film, particularly the parts concerning the Head, the black cat, and the rest of their allies. Buttercup is kidnapped by the Head's minions, including a rogue cat and a swarm of creepy crawlies. A toy made out of clay is squashed but can reform himself.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sinister sexual undertones to the way the Head treats Buttercup; he asks her to give him a kiss (on the forehead) and forces her to spoon-feed him.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The Head smokes a cigar.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Toys in the Attic is the English-dubbed version of a 2009 Czech film. A combination of stop-action and live-action characters, the movie is too menacing -- and some of the creatures too frightening -- for younger moviegoers. While the "secret life of toys" set-up might sound like Toy Story, the characters can be downright creepy, and the evil Head (who smokes cigars) incredibly disturbing (he's obsessed with kidnapping an antique doll and forcing her to do his bidding). Tweens with a sophisticated film palate or an interest in stop-action animation will be intrigued, but it's not for younger kids.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
A Darker Toy Story: Creepy But Good Arthouse Film
Report this review
What's the Story?
In a dusty old attic, the inhabitants are divided between the peace-loving, communal-living residents of the West and the Land of Evil in the East. The villain, a statue's bust called the Head (voiced by Douglas Urbanski), plots to have his minions (creepy insects, rotten vegetables, and a rogue black cat) kidnap the beautiful antique doll Buttercup (Vivian Schilling). After she's held prisoner, it's up to a motley crew of misfit friends -- train-conducting Teddy (Forest Whitaker), Spanish marionette Sir Handsome (Cary Elwes), clay creature Laurent (Marcel Tubert), and radio-announcing mouse Madam Curie (Joan Cusack) -- to figure out a way to defeat the Head and rescue Buttercup.
Is It Any Good?
Director Jiri Barta inventively depicts the idea of toys coming to life by including animals and vegetables and a combination of stop-motion and live-action characters. Visually, TOYS IN THE ATTIC is a stunning, remarkable film made by a true craftsman. But to American audiences brought up on Disney and Pixar, the scene might be too frightening and creepy -- grotesque, even -- to be considered appropriate for younger audiences.
Although the voice cast is top notch, there was almost no need to re-dub the film in English. The stop-action animation genre might be considered family fare by many, but this is really more of an art-house film that would have been better served in the original Czech. As an option for older children familiar enough with foreign movies to read subtitles and adults who enjoy grown-up animated fare, this is a perfect pick, but for families who prefer their stories light and their animation straightforward, hold off on this at-times macabre story for another time.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the filmmakers employed the use of real humans/objects mixed with the stop-motion figures. Was the result different than films that include computer-generated characters? Which do you prefer?
Some of the characters were frightening. Do you think Toys in the Attic is more an art-house film or a family film?
Can you tell that this movie wasn't made by an American studio? How? Are there other foreign animated movies that you enjoy?
- In theaters: September 7, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2013
- Cast: Cary Elwes, Forest Whitaker, Joan Cusack
- Directors: Jirí Barta, Vivian Schilling
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Hannover House
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild peril and brief smoking
- Last updated: November 20, 2022
Inclusion information powered by
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.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Offbeat Animated Movies
Best Animated Animal Movies
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate