Picks and Pans Review: Small Soldiers
Duck and cover. Small Soldiers, a movie in which malevolent toy soldiers violently attack more peaceful toys and even humans, is a nasty piece of work undone by excessive mayhem and miscalculated humor. On paper it may have seemed like Toy Story with a serrated edge, but onscreen, Small Soldiers, as directed by scaremeister Joe Dante (Gremlins), curdles into mean-spirited sludge that is too bloodthirsty for little kids (who wants to deal with pre-bedtime frights about toys that might maraud in the night?) and too narratively haphazard for adults.
If one were seeking something nice to say (my mother raised me right), one would mention the whiz-bang animatronics and computer-generated imagery that allow the dolls to so convincingly walk, talk and kill. Note: In his final screen role, the late Phil Hartman sputters effectively as a suburban father. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: No Toy Story, this one belongs locked away in the toy chest for good