Box Office Failures Week: Toys (1993)

Well, this is going to get me some fans.

I despised Robin Williams.

Every time he did stand-up, every time he was on a talk show and in nearly every movie he was in, it was a constant case of “Look at me! I’m the center of attention! No one else is as important as me!”

I feel bad that the man took his own life after dealing with depression and by and large, I’ve heard wonderful stories of how he truly was as a human being.

But his movies make me physically sick.

The worst of them is 1993’s Toys, a movie so bad that I worry that the last 27 years of my life have been a Jacob’s Ladder situation that I will soon wake up in the Boardman, Ohio Movies 8 and be forced to take my college girlfriend to Pizza Hut before I am chastised for how sloppy I am for several hours by her mother.

Who can we blame for this flop? Surely not designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, who labored for more than one year designing the film’s sets, taking over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. He based so much of it on the art of Magritte and Italian Futurism, Modernist art and Dada. It looks gorgeous.

I still hate this movie with the combined inverse energy that I use to love giallo, Joe D’Amoto, George Eastman and Lon Chaney Jr.

Kenneth Zevo, the owner of the Zevo Toys, is dying. He’s played by Donald O’Connor, who deserved way better for his last film role. Instead of giving the reigns of power to his son Leslie (Williams), he will give them to his son Leland (Michael Gambon, who also deserves…you get the idea). Leslie’s childlike ways won’t serve him well in the ways of business and even a romance with Gwen (Robin Wright) can’t mature him.

Where can I start with this movie? Like how Alsatia (Joan Cusack) is really a robot all along? That LL Cool J has a long diatribe about being a military man and eating his peas in a certain way (I have been known to quote this scene often as I describe my pure bile for this entire filmmaking enterprise)? That there’s a monster called the Sea Swine? That Tori Amos music gets wasted in this? That talent like Jamie Foxx, Debie Mazar, Yeardley Smith and Wendy Melvoin (yes, Wendy who was once with Lisa in Prince’s band The Revolution) are all forced to somehow be in this movie that meanders on and on and on?

Happy toys versus military weapons? If you want to see that, be my guest. Robin Williams mugging like a cocaine-addled lunatic while robotic sisters battle aquatic drones? Turn it on, if you feel like it.

Don’t include me.

It took writer, producer, and Director Barry Levinson a decade to get this — his dream project — to the screen. Looking back on his IMDB list — Home FriesGood Morning, VietnamRain Man and more — and I see so many movies that have bullied me. This entire article triggered me worse than if I ran into the previously mentioned ex-girlfriend and she’s been deceased for several years, so imagine how traumatic this all is.

EDIT NOTE: Thanks to midnightmoviemonster for pointing out I said Robert, not Robin Williams. I was thinking about the artist probably, who I love. Thanks!

3 thoughts on “Box Office Failures Week: Toys (1993)

  1. I apologize for being this person, but I assume you meant Robin Williams rather than Robert.

    A film is tedious enough when the manic pixie dream girl trope is invoked, but Robin’s manic pixie manchild in this movie is worse. His forced whimsy feels like it should be followed by calliope and slide whistle music stingers like a bad 60’s sitcom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam, I’m with you. It’s why I avoided Good Morning, Vietnam for our Radio Station Week of reviews. I’d have no objectivity and I’d end up scorch earthin’ it.


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