1998; Rated PG-13; 108 Minutes
Kirsten Dunst: Christy Fimple
David Cross: Irwin Wayfair
Gregory Smith: Alan Abernathy
Jay Mohr: Larry Benson
Phil Hartman: Phil Fimple
Kevin Dunn: Stuart Abernathy
Denis Leary: Gil Mars
Ann Magnuson: Irene Abernathy
Wendy Schaal: Marion Fimple
Produced by Paul
Deason, Michael Finnel, Walter F. Parkes and Colin Wilson;
Directed by Joe Dante; Screenwritten by Ted
Elliot, Zak Penn, Adam Rifkin, Terry Rossio and Gavin Scott
by DAVID KEYES
me to make the following observation perfectly clear:
are not made of cold hard steel. They are not made of intense,
wild things, nor are they made of things that could make
cement crumble. They are not made of pure strength. They
are not made of disturbing, grim things, and they are not
made of things that go bump in the night.
are intelligent people, but they can't handle everything.
They definitely won't be able to handle "Small Soldiers,"
even though the people who made it seem to think that children
can handle any type of violence in the movies.
who can are the ones who would probably find "Small Soldiers"
a seriously dumb movie. Here we have something where you
are not sure who will enjoy it. There are indeed notions
within the script that suggests it could be a 'kiddie' movie,
but after seeing it opening day, I doubt that any child
under the age of 10 will find it enjoyable. They'll find
it down right disturbing, considering that it is so violent
it makes "Jumanji" look like "Peter Pan." But "Jumanji,"
while indescribable to a generally young audience, was at
lease enjoyable for much older ones. The teenagers and adults
who saw "Small Soldiers" on the day I did apparently walked
away from it finding every second of it forgettable.
that's not to say the movie wasn't worth a try. The story
and premise setups are indeed unique ones. It's about a
toy company taken over by a war hero*, who has come to the
decision that today's toys do not live up to their standards.
He envisions his creators making toys that can live up to
all the hype. He orders them to make war toys, with long-lasting
batteries, minds of their own, etc. What they actually produce,
however, is not realized until the toys are manufactured.
These toy war soldiers are indeed alive, with minds of their
own, and urges to battle. A family who has bought a load
of these toys discovers their life essence, and uses the
backdrop of the film to create a concluding subplot which
will overthrow the viscous toys which they company has created.
This is no easy task, as the toys are not prepared to go
without a fight.
even more realistic ias how the toys actually look. Stan
Winston, the man behind the "Jurrassic Park" Dinosaurs,
has once again created visual creatures that will be remembered
in our imaginations as time passes. They are indeed the
best part of the movie, not simply because they are much
more detailed than toys of "Toy Story," but because it is
almost as if they really exist in our worlds. They are sketched
out in the script to be intelligent living beings, sometimes
more intelligent than humans, and this is a difficult task
to accomplish, not just for a special effects department,
but for a screenwriter as well.
perhaps that's the core of the problem. Both sides of the
vindictive and viscous soldiers are in constant battle with
each other, and these battle scenes are indeed not for young
eyes. In one such gruesome example, several war soldiers
are torn to pieces when a lawn mower rides over them. I,
myself, was turned off by these scenes, not only because
they were considerably graphic, but because they lasted
longer than they should of. It seemed like five to ten minutes
in which this occurrence existed, and was soon followed
by more similar violent approaches.
movie does not work, for any type of audience. Children
will be scared, teens will be bored, and, I presume, adults
will be turned off by what its children are faced with.
So, who here will like it? I have no clue. I guess the answer
to that question is 'no one.' Sorry, Joe Dante. Try try
am guessing a war hero. If the script sets this character
up with a different background, I regrettably missed it.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.