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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Toy
The Toy
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // November 13, 2001
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 9, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"The Toy" came at somewhat of an in-between time for director Richard Donner, who had previously directed such hits as "The Omen" and "Superman", and who would go on to direct the "Lethal Weapon" series". The film has gone on to become somewhat of a cult favorite, although after watching it again on this DVD release, I'm not quite sure why. The film is a remake of a French picture directed by Francis Veber, starring Pryor as Jack, an aspiring writer who can't catch a break and needs to find a job. He's hired as the cleaning lady at the offices of a powerful industrialist (Jackie Gleason), but that doesn't work out. Then, when said industrialist's spoiled son Eric (Scott Schwartz) spots Jack at a toy store, he asks his father to get him a new toy - Jack, who finds that being a toy pays rather well.

Although the concept is rather unsettling, it turns out that Eric doesn't really want a "toy" as much as he wants a friend, since his own father isn't being much of a friend to him in the first place. The film is generally livened by the two leads - especially Prior, who provides an energetic and occasionally amusing performance. The film also boasts excellent cinematography, set decoration and production design.

It's really the screenplay that's the problem. The jokes fall flat a bit more than I'd like and the sentimental elements of the story feel a bit heavy. Maybe this all hasn't aged particularly well since it was originally released - the look of the film, at least, is particularly dated. Overall, "The Toy" occasionally gets some decent laughs thanks to Pryor and Gleason, but the film remains flat and rather unfunny more often than not.


The DVD

VIDEO: "The Toy" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although the film does boast a considerably dated look at this point, at least the presentation appears mildly clean and clear throughout much of the movie. Sharpness and detail are just fine, as the widescreen edition does decent justice to the cinematography of the great Laslo Kovacs.

As previously noted, I was fairly suprised at how clean the film appeared. Although there were a few minor specks and some dirt here and there, the picture was free of larger wear, such as marks, scratches or hairs on the print used. The film also remained free of pixelation and all but a few slight instances of edge enhancement.

Colors, on the other hand, fared just okay. They appeared somewhat faded at times and occasionally a tiny bit smeared. Although not entirely fine, the picture remained at least a bit better than I'd expected. A pan & scan version is included on the flip side. Subtitles are included in English, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, and Thai.

SOUND: The audio, on the other hand, doesn't fare as well. The mono soundtrack sounds weak, with only fair fidelity and somewhat rough sounding dialogue and sound effects. A French mono soundtrack is also included.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS::

also: The only extras are bonus trailers for "Matilda", "Jumanji" and "Jack".

Final Thoughts: "The Toy" is an occasionally funny picture that doesn't seem to have aged all that well. Tristar's DVD is priced right and offers decent video quality, but mediocre audio and supplements. Fans of the picture will be pleased with the package, but others should probably skip it.

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