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Wonderfully Horrible Netflix Instant Films: Toys

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bill-swift - May 31, 2013

Robin Williams has made some truly crappy movies. For every Fisher King there are 12 Flubbers. Maybe he needs the work to pay for his Ritalin because those Mork and Mindy residual checks aren't what they used to be. Still, there are a few gems in his career that flew under the radar. I think Toys is one of them. When the movie came out there was a great deal of buzz about it but it bombed at the box office. Maybe it was too esoteric and intellectual for the average Robin fan who only want to see him act like the Genie from Aladdin. With amazing set design, costumes, soundtrack, and general goofiness I think you can overlook the flimsy story or the fact that it co-stars LL Cool J.

Toys is about a family of toy makers and the struggle to control the destiny of their product. When the patriarch dies, he leaves the company to his brother who is a military general, (played by the great Michael Gambon). He decides to make war toys, which the dead owner's son Leslie, (Williams), objects to. He wants them to make boring wacky toys no one likes. Along with his sister Joan Cusack and friends he has to take down his uncle and his son LL Cool J, (yes, he plays Michael Gambon's kid). The plot is thin and kind of heavy handed at times with its message about the evil of war toys. It's basically just a framework to hold up a truly gorgeous film.

The aesthetics were inspired by surrealist painters like Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali. The sets and costumes are downright Oscar worthy even though the script surely isn't. Even Joan Cusack isn't canker sore annoying like she normally is. The soundtrack is also really weird and amazing. These strengths, I think, are a big reason why the movie failed with mainstream audiences, (though it has "cult movie" status now). The visual elements do occasionally get in the way of the story. But since the story isn't all that interesting, who cares? I just want to see more of their life size doll house or driving around in toy cars.

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