"Small Soldiers" is director Joe Dante doing his latest Gremlins
confection, and it's mean-spirited fun, once the movie gets its engines
"Small Soldiers" stars Gregory Smith and Kirsten Dunst as two MUCH TOO
CUTE kids with raging hormones who end up battling various reanimated toy
soldiers. Chip Hazard (voiced by the typically gruffly Tommy Lee Jones)
leads this platoon of robot action figures, and they are equipped to kill
rival toys called Gorgonites, led by their soft-spoken leader, Archer
(voiced by Frank Langella).
"Small Soldiers" begins badly with a lame introduction about how these
toys are created and who their target audience is. The business meetings
are led by Denis Leary as a rich tycoon, but all these scenes are
unnecessary. What if we never knew how these soldiers were created or
what their purpose was? Some things are better left to the imagination.
Once the movie shift gears to suburbia where the toys are sent, it
gets better and better with inventive gags and superbly staged cartoonish
mayhem. Two of my favorite examples: Chip Hazard searching for the human
characters in a helicopter with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkieres" playing
in the background, and the Barbie-like dolls who are brought to life in
Bride of Frankenstein fashion (complete with the original score) and
uttering lines such as, "She's gone postal."
"Small Soldiers" is light fun and frequently funny, though not at the
same breath as "Gremlins." It says something about 90's kiddie fantasies,
though, when the toy soldiers and monsters are more three-dimensional than
the thin human characters on display here, including the late Phil Hartman
as an obnoxious neighbor.
Copyright © 1998 Jerry Saravia