Starring Gregory Smith, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, Jay Mohr, Phil Hartman, Kevin Dunn, Ann Magnuson, Denis Leary
Voices of Tommy Lee Jones, Frank Langella, Jim Brown, Bruce Dern, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Ernest Borgnine, Clint Walker, George Kennedy, Harry Shearer
Entertaining. Limited. Retread.
Major Chip Hazard: You’ve got a lot of guts. Let’s see what they look like.
Desperate to impress their boss and keep their jobs after a corporate takeover, two toy designers unwittingly create weaponized toys with artificial intelligence known as the Commando Elite led by Major Chip Hazard (Lee Jones). They also give the same artificial intelligence to a meek set of toys known as the Gorgonites led by Archer (Langella). Unleashed in a small, All-American town, teenager Alan Abernathy (Smith) befriends Archer and gets caught in the middle of the Commando Elite’s relentless pursuit of the Gorgonites. If it all sounds very serious, know that this film is a little strange and difficult to explain, because it’s actually very silly and played almost entirely for laughs despite being somewhat frightening. One critic for Empire Magazine described it as, ” Gremlins with toy soldiers, except not quite as dark or funny,” and I find that to be an apt description. Apparently, director Joe Dante (Gremlins being his most famous film) was held back by the studio from being as dark as he would have liked. The film, as it is, entertains (I particularly liked Chip Hazard’s one-liners) and makes an impression but hardly warrants serious consideration or repeat viewings. Its spoofing of small-town life, military movies, and corporate greed are nice touches though.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-