Small Soldiers

He looks kind of sad actually.
"The few, the proud, and the small."

Hello my fair friends, welcome back to the Tagline, a land of whimsy and wonderment. Or profanity and boobs. I never remember which one it is, I need to work on that. It's not important though, because it is time for more movies! Today I am going to dip once more into that deep well of inspired cinema, the Netflix. I couldn't HELP but notice that Small Soldiers was cropping up in the like... popular with stoners on Facebook feed or something, and I mean, really how could I say no? So I loaded it up (the movie duh) and sat down to relive one of history's greatest cinematic triumphs, a movie with a action figure that sounds like Tommy Lee Jones attempting to kill the kid from Everwood. It's sort of like a Terminator thing, robotic being goes back in time to try and kill Gregory Smith before Everwood can ever even happen. Just like Terminator though, the robots were doomed to fail (spoilers the main character kid in this movie is not brutally murdered by action figures). Small Soldiers was a 1998 movie aimed at I am not honestly sure who, kids I guess, but like, slightly older kids... tweens? I guess so. Anyway it features Gregory Smith as a reformed-ish juvenile delinquent named Alan whose father runs a super lame toy store. In an effort to drum up some sales, he conducts a shady deal with a delivery truck driver to "acquire" some new fancy action figures. What baby Ephraim doesn't realize is that these toys are totally fucked. See Jay Mohr is an idiot who works for Denis Leary, who is in this movie Gil Mars, owner of Globotech, which is a massive corporation that has recently opened up a toy division because petrochemicals and military weapons weren't keeping him entertained or something. Did I mention Jay Mohr is an idiot? Well he is, and he decides to make the toys super cool by installing crazy learning military grade microchips in all of them. This is swell and all, except that their programming makes that sort of... let's go with problematic. That's nice.

New model army.
Problematic because the commandos are programmed to brutally murder the gorgonites, which are freaky monster nerds who are programmed to hide and lose, which seems kind of like a raw deal. Archer, who is the catman leader of the Gorgonites, befriends Alan, and helps to make him look as insane as possible in front of his parents, who already think he is a nutbar. Meanwhile Major Chip Hazard (that's the Tommy Lee Jones leader of the commandos) rounds up his subordinates and gears up with a bunch of power tools and shit so that he can carve up monsters and anyone who gets in his way. See the programming in these things is pretty cut and dry, so anyone helping the bad guys is another bad guy. Only the Gorgonites aren't bad, they're just nerds who look weird. So something a lot of people on the internet can probably relate to, I know I can personally. If the thought of being stabbed with a razor blade by a GI Joe kind of freaks you out, you aren't alone there I promise. I take great comfort in knowing that my action figures are unlikely to shiv me in an alleyway.

You're right, I DO look like a dork!
Like any good movie about murderous toys, there needs to be a romantic interest here, and so naturally we get Kirsten Dunst, who is everyone's favorite girl, especially because she was in that just GREAT Marie Antoinette movie (my loathing of Kirsten Dunst's stupid face is longstanding and well documented see here for a brief mention of how happy I was to watch a Spider-Man movie without her in it). She is here again the literal girl next door Christy (or like behind his house... really nearby is the point) and clearly out of Alan's league because he is a nerd, but crisis situations can make even the biggest loser seem less lame I guess. Alan helps Archer to defeat the commandos (and really his and Christy's family also get drawn into this suburban warfare) and then sends them off on a toy boat, where presumably later they drowned or were destroyed by like a mountain lion or something. Gil Mars shows up in a helicopter to contain the situation with large sums of money (because bribes are great kids!) and that's pretty much that.

Don't give me that smug look.
What makes this movie stick out in my memory is mostly that it is just so very perplexing. I'm not sure who was asking for a CGI toys attacking people movie, crossed with a bumbling buddy comedy (that's Jay Mohr and and David Cross in this movie, who are the team responsible for spawning the death toys, though mostly it's Mohr's character who does the dumb shit). While it's amusing to watch such a goofy premise play out, I was definitely trying to figure out who was going to think it was a cool thing. The raw craving for merchandising was apparent from the ground up for sure, but beyond that the endgame here seems sort of blurry, like that Puddle of Mudd song (sorry that was low even for me). It's still entertaining to watch, and I'm sure its worth putting on in the background on Netflix I'm just... I don't know if I get it.

You can though, right now. Go watch it and be confused with me. That's all for today, join me on Thursday for a blast from bat past.

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