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Click above to purchase "Toys" at amazon.com



review by Zach B.


Rated PG-13

Running Time: 101 minutes

Starring Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J

Written by Valerie Curtin & Barry Levinson

Directed by Barry Levinson

Studio: Fox

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Featurette, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection

Released: October 2nd, 2001

Robin Williams is Leslie Zevo, an adult who's like a giant, big kid (doesn't Williams always play those usually with great fun and joy?). Leslie is the son of a toy factory owner, who, at the start of the movie, passes away. So our plot gets set up, of taking over the factory. Leslie seems to be the key choice who has a natural love of toys and ideas, but his uncle, Leland (Michael Gambson) takes it over, but for the wrong needs. Leland is a crazed military guy, who is plotting to build toys that are really weapons at heart. So it's up to Leslie to reclaim his father's legacy and stop Leland.

"Toys" is a movie that's often bashed and a movie that people don't automatically think Barry Levinson for, but I really believe it's an underrated movie. No, it's not great and truly pales in comparison when you compare it to other Levinson writing-directing works, such as "Diner" and "Liberty Heights." Still, while some may not be fond of the plot or "weirdness," there's no denying how creative and how great this movie looks. I think Levinson does a pretty solid directing job, capturing great shots and directing the movie in good fashion. The script is a classic good vs. evil story, written by Levinson and Valerie Curtin. While the script tells the story, packs a few jokes and a variety of moments, I felt there could have been a little more development as far as characters. Not to mention the movie meanders a little with a two hour running time, so trimming it a little would have been a bit better if you ask me.

The quirky and rather delightful score from Hans Zimmer and Trevor Horn is nice, while some fine performances make this movie watchable. Williams gives another great, comical and somewhat heartfelt role as Leslie. Williams passion and energy bursts onto the screen like usual as he reteams with his "Good Morning Vietnam" director. Michael Gambor makes a good villain, while supporting performances from Joan Cusack and Robin Wright are cool, not to mention smaller roles from stars who have gotten bigger over the years, such as Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J.

But perhaps the real star of "Toys" is the wonderful design aspect. The movie received Oscar® nods for Costume Design and Set Decoration, and there's no wonder why it shouldn't. The visuals in the movie are beautiful, neat, over the top, absurd and in all, magnificent. The design production shows, no matter how small or big a scene may be, each one has its own unique feel thanks to the production designers. It's all really clever and well done, and really brings a good amount to the movie. Not that it replaces plot, but it's all great to see.

"Toys" isn't a great movie, but it's pretty good. I feel the time when it was released it wasn't given so much of a chance, and while it hasn't gained so much of an audience over time, if you like visuals, this is a movie worth checking out.

With a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, "Toys" looks pretty decent. I was a bit disappointed though. This movie feels like just a direct transfer. It could have really shined if there was some extra effort. It looks a bit dull and murky, and I felt if it was a bit brighter and sharper, the wonderful visuals would have just popped off the screen and make it a great experience. However, that does not happen. Black levels are good, detail is fine but there are blemishes and scratches here and there. By no means bad, but considering the film, it should have been a lot better.

"Toys" includes an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is pretty good. The score sounds particularly nice through the channels, while dialogue is clear and easy to hear. There is some good surround use with the more action oriented scenes (the sound really brought me into them). There's some good imaging between the channels. The front speakers sound fine. There's a solid ambience to this mix that can't be denied with just enough .1 LFE. Worthwhile for sure. English and French Dolby surround tracks are included, plus the usual English closed captions, English subtitles and French subtitles.

All promo here, though I would have loved to see in-depth featurettes about the film's design. In anycase, there's the usual Fox promotional Featurette which doesn't feel so promo at all. It has a jokey attitude to it, but it explores what the movie actually is and it's "secrecy" and has footage of filming the movie, on the set interviews and shooting the trailers for it. The interviews are pretty good. Williams' constant jokes are great. This lasts a little over eight minutes.

We're also treated to all four Trailers. These are pretty fun, especially Williams' lines. No doubt that they were improv. Two TV Spots are also included plus Fox Flix Trailers for "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Home Alone," "Jingle All the Way" and the 1994 version of "Miracle on 34th Street."

"Toys" is not a bad movie, and this DVD is a bit disappointing. However, you can get it a good price, so fans of the movie should pick it up. If you've never seen it, it's worth renting.

(3.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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