411 Movies Top 5 2.07.14: Top 5 Toy Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 02.07.2014
From Transformers and Child's Play to Pinocchio, Puppet Master III, Toy Story 3 and more, the 411 staff counts down the top 5 toy-related movies of all-time!
Welcome to Week 412 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: This week, The Lego movie hits theaters. With that in mind, lets count down our Top 5 Toy Movies (it can be based on toys like Transformers or Legos or be about toys like Child's Play or even Big)
Honorable Mentions: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Big (1988)
5. Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge
I haven't seen all twelve Puppet Master movies (although I am working on it), but of the ones I have seen the third one is my favorite. Toulon's Revenge is a sort of prequel to the first two movies and sets up how the puppet master Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) became the puppet master and how his puppets became badass killers. Essentially, Toulon's puppets were magic before the Nazis took over most of Europe, but they became killers after the Nazis murdered Toulon's wife (brilliantly played by the beautiful Sarah Douglas) and Toulon vows revenge. We get to see Toulon create the Leech Woman puppet (it's his wife) and we get to see the origin of the mega popular Blade (he's based on Major Kraus as played by the incomparable Richard Lynch. Kraus is the Nazi bastard that killed Toulon's wife). Tremendous fun from start to finish, Toulon's Revenge is a low budget horror flick that needs to be seen.
4. Masters of the Universe
I really didn't care for this toy adaptation the first time I saw it. I thought it was too much like Star Wars and not enough like the cartoon that was on TV every day. Dolph Lundgren sort of looked like He-Man, and Frank Langella looked amazing as Skeletor, but why didn't anything else look and feel like the cartoon? And what the hell was this "He-Man going to Earth" bullshit all about? The movie grew on me, though, after each viewing, and I eventually just accepted that it was an adaptation of the cartoon and toy line. The black clad storm troopers, the Cosmic Key, going to Earth, they all suddenly became okay. Dolph and Frank did a great job, it's filled with plenty of cool action stuff, Meg Foster is in it, and that's all just enough. I do wish, though, that the sort of promised sequel actually happened. I wanted to see what Skeletor had planned next for He-Man.
3. Child's Play
Child's Play is both terrifying and incredibly messed up. It's terrifying because it's about a children's doll that's possessed by the evil soul of a serial killer played by Brad Dourif (the man is scary. He just is). It's messed up because the doll wants to essentially possess a little kid (Andy, as played by Alex Vincent). How often does that happen in a killer doll movie? Had the doll, a Good Guy, not said a word outside of "Hi, I'm Chucky! Wanna play?" I think we all would have had nightmares into adulthood, but since the doll has a personality and a purpose it's doubly scary. And it still is twenty-six years later. Just the thought of Chucky, wielding a knife, going after Andy is enough to give me the willies. I think I'm going to stop talking about this movie now and think about one of the sequels. They were fun.
2. Small Soldiers
The brilliant thing about Joe Dante's Small Soldiers is that you both root for and against the title characters. You love the soldiers because they look like fun and they're voiced by Hollywood greats like Tommy Lee Jones, Ernie Borgnine, the Jim Brown, George Kennedy, and Clint Walker. And you hate the soldiers (well, maybe hate is too strong a word. "Strongly dislike" is probably better) because they can't see what absolute jerks they are. All they want to do is take out the Gorgonites, peaceful creatures that just want to, well, live in peace. The Gorgonites are not the monsters they're supposed to be. You wish the Commando Elite would just back off and do something else. Dennis Leary's character wanted his new toy company to create toys that "play back," and that all sounded like a great idea at the time, but if they're not "fun" to play with, what's the point? Evil toys are no fun.
1. The Toy
The Toy, while ostensibly a goofy comedy starring Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason, is also a complex bit of social satire and social commentary. The movie has utter disdain for the mega rich and what they're allowed to do because they have money (Gleason's U.S. Bates is able to buy a human being to act as his son's best friend for one week because he has the money to make it happen. And then there's what he makes Ned Beatty do), it makes a mockery of racist assholes (the dinner party sequence at the end of the movie is a hilarious attack on the KKK), and it shows that material things won't make you happy (Bates' son Eric has every toy in the world but he's bored by all of them). The movie also despises people who think they can change the world simply by protesting. Pryor's speech about his wife and how "truth and justice don't work for him" and that all he wants is a job is one of the greatest moments in 1980's cinema (and Ned Beatty's drunk and depressed fishing scene is another great one). The world is a complex, awful place, and all you can really do is try to get by. It isn't an uplifting message at all. And if you think about how the ending seems to suggest that the only way anyone is ever going to be happy is if the rich decide to let it happen, the movie is an indictment against the world. Pryor's character isn't just running down the street at the end of the movie to avoid another humiliating "friend" job, he's trying to get away from everything. But he won't, though. That mother is going to make him an offer he won't be able to refuse (he'd be nuts to turn down that kind of money).
I wish that "Jack Brown wind-up" scene was on youtube, the one where Pryor is talking to all of Eric's stuffed animals. It sums up the entire movie.
Honorable Mentions: To be honest, I could have had a Top 11 out of this week. What better way to kick it off with the original toy story with the toy that became a boy in the Disney animated version of the tale of Pinocchio. Speeaking of Disney, you can thank them and Pixar for the seemingly monthly CG kids after the very first Toy Story. Keeping it animated, I was always a fan of Nick Park's claymation Wallace & Gromit shorts, but The Wrong Trousers sticks out for the train set chase finale.
The theme of toys in films have generated the odd intriguing piece now and again, like Mel Gibson's comeback in The Beaver, where he's a depressive who communicates through a Beaver glove puppet. Also, toys probably represent the worst part about Christmas - the last minute rush for presents - as featured in the Arnold Classic, Jingle All The Way. Last worth mentioning, remember that neat little The Indian In The Cupboard film? Some really cool tricks with that film.
5. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
I do not rate the Transformers movies at all. Well maybe the last one. Whilst for the most part they're not what I want from a TF film, there's one scene which Michael Bay pulled off which encapsulates everything about my favorite childhood toy...
Ah man, I marked out like a geek in the cinema at that. I use to bloody love playing with my toy gestalts, creating little platforms to play on. So to see the Constructicons combining then wrecking the Pyramid's shit flashbacked so many memories. Sure it was a little bastardised since all the movie 'formers are fugly to look at but so much fun. Well compared to the rest of Revenge Of The Fallen.
Keep your Monopolys and Batttleships, this is the real board game I want to play. Throwing in the dangers of a tropical jungle instead of taking rent off family members, Jumanji is a time spanning movie with Robin Williams' Alan becoming trapped in the game until being released by a couple of kids. Along with the grown up girl Alan started playing with decades ago, the four try to finish the game through the marathon of deadly oversized mosquitos, a stampeding herd and a blunderbuss wielding hunter. A product of it's time, the CGI hasn't aged massively well to me but the pure fantasy behind this film is just so refreshing, even nearly 20 years after it's release.
3. Small Soldiers
In possibly the greatest voiceover role ever, Tommy Lee Jones brings the voice of Chip Hazard to life as well as the best military processor ever in 'toys-come-to-life' army-based action figure thriller Small Soldiers. Hazard and his Commando Elite are the real stars of this film and they're built to be butch, 'Uhmericah' meatheads whose sole mission is to rid the world of the friendly Gorgonite creatures. In quite a weirdly dark film to be marketed to kids, Small Soldiers is probably the best film with the actual effect of seeing toys come to life in the real world. Plus also may contain the origins of the "Will It Blend?" Youtube series with one of the Commandos being shoved down the garbage disposal unit.
2. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
I've expressed my love for this film before. We didn't actually have Joe over here in the UK. Instead the toys were remarketed as a one man army called Action Man (which if you think about it, maybe even more awesome) but the core concept of G.I. Joe still appeals to me massively. Outside of a superhero film, where else are we going to see this cartoonish level of characters? Also, the villains including the Baroness, Destro and Cobra Commander are the most ludicrously entertaining on the big screen since Hitler from Inglorious Basterds. This is never going to win awards but the adaptation of G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra is filled with over the top action and fun cast which makes this a superb toy winner for me.
1. Toy Story 3
In terms of discussing toys as a theme, there's nothing I've seen that could top the third Toy Story movie in terms of depth and emotion. Playing off real life emotions of growing up and what happens to toys through their owner Andy, Cowboy Woody and Buzz Lightyear lead the rest of the unwanted toys on a journey to reunite with him again with a detour through a rough and tough Kindergarten class, managed by the evil pink teddy bear Funzo. At it's heart, this film is about moving on and getting older. It touches the right buttons since I'm certain it's a position that a lot of readers would have had to go through. Recently, I did the same with alot of childhood stuff after watching the film and felt similar feelings after a clearout of my attic. Least I didn't break down and cry at Toy Story 3 like my friend did.
Shawn S. Lealos
Disney's greatest classical animated movie is the story of a wooden puppet who comes to life as a real boy, a wish come true for the lonely toymaker. While the story about the lonely man's desire for a child is what kicks off the movie, it is the story of Pinocchio that really pushes it to greatness. This is honestly one of the darkest animated movies from Disney, with Pinocchio's lies and deception getting him taken away and sent to a world of bad boys where his life is in danger. The story gets even darker when Geppetto risks his own life in the belly of a whale to save the toy who became his son.
4. Child's Play
I know the movies got a bit ridiculous over time, but this first movie was a straight up solid slasher horror movie and a pretty scary one at that. Chucky became an icon thanks to the series, which started here with his origin story. Of course, Chucky was just a regular toy, and there were dozens like him on the shelf of the toy store when the bad guy was shot by the police and used voodoo to send his spirit into the toy. It was a similar premise but it was made great because Chucky was just so damn creepy. Props to Brad Dourif, because without that voice, Chucky would never work as well as it did.
Who didn't have a teddy bear as a kid? Who didn't wish it could sometimes come to life and be your friend? Well, this movie shows how that could go horribly wrong – in all the right ways. Seth McFarland proved that he could do funny in live action just like he could on The Family Guy and Ted was one of the best R-rated absurd comedies ever made. The movie was just perfect.
People love to rip on the Transformers franchise, but I liked them. I even liked the second movie in the series quite a bit and gave it a favorable review when it came out. As for the first movie, I thought it worked great as a movie about the toys I loved as a kid. Prime, Bumblebee and Megatron were all done right and I thought the story was solid too. Honestly, I don't know what people expected out of these movies but they delivered what they advertised and were just a lot of fun.
1. Toy Story 3
It is rare, but Toy Story is a case where the movies got better with each entry in the series, the second trumping the first and the third even better than the excellent second movie. This final chapter in the story of Andy's toys has a wonderful story for anyone who has grown up and moved on in the big world. The toys, who were there for Andy his entire life to provide him happiness and joy, find themselves possibly unwanted and headed into the dark and scary storage. By the end, they realize their purpose in life again and find a new child to lighten the days of. At one point, it is the story of moving on and losing childhood but at the same time it is also the story of the toys moving on and the story starting all over again. It was the perfect conclusion to the story.