Making the Grades
When toy company Heartland Play Systems is bought out by Globotech, a huge conglomerate that specializes in military electronics, toy designers Larry Benson (Jay Mohr) and Irwin Wayfair (David Cross) are suddenly under the gun to come up with a new line of sophisticated action figures. By blending the expertise of Globotech's military background and fitting each toy with microprocessors designed for combat applications, they create much more than just a poseable soldier.
Their figures are a group of U.S. commandos and a strange looking collection of mutant creatures called Gorgonites. In a rush to get the products to market, the new toys bypass the R&D, Q.C., and Common Sense departments, and find themselves in the hands of Alan Abernathy (Gregory Smith), a teen boy in Iowa who helps run his father's educational toy store. What Alan doesn't know is that these toys are programmed for war against each other, and nothing is going to stop them from fulfilling their mission.
But the real mission of this film is to lure young viewers into the video store battlefield. The box says, "Small Soldiers is a spectacular adventure for the whole family," but as you watch these toys rip each other limb from limb, and attack the humans they encounter, it becomes more of a horror movie. Language, although mild by PG-13 standards, is rough for complete family viewing.
Small Soldiers' mix of live action and computer animation delivers technical glitzes that may hold viewers' attention, but with all the potential learning capabilities of these toys, why can't screen writers have them being taught to resolve conflicts instead of creating them? Just as their violent environment programmed these soldiers to fight, I wonder what violence in films like these teach the impressionable young minds that may be viewing them. That's a question worth burning into our memory chips.