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15-year-old Alan Abernathy, the son of a toy store owner, tries out some new action figures: The Commando Elite vs. The Gorgonites. But three months ago, a toy company believes it is onto something when it employs the latest government military technology in a series of action figures, enabling them to talk. They underestimate the power of the special micro chips they've employed, however, as the two opposing sides of the toy line start thinking for themselves and engaging in real combat! The Commando Elite vow to wipe out the Gorgonites in a suburban neighborhood. Alan, his neighbor Christy Fimple, (on whom he has a massive crush) with the help of the kind Gorgonites, must protect his home and family from the Commandos.
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Here's the pitch: "It's like Toy Story but these toys that come to life really kick butt!" That's essentially it for this breezy popcorn flick. In a very smart first 10 minutes, new toy-company owner Denis Leary tells his crew he wants toys "that play back." Hence the small soldiers land in Anytown, U.S.A., and the loner kid Alan (Gregory Smith) opens them up before they are supposed to be on the shelves. Those military-grade chips sure make them smart and give the toys plenty of pithy retorts to boot. Plenty of violence, er, action, most of it fun enough. The vocal talents, including Tommy Lee Jones, Frank Langella, and cast members of The Dirty Dozen are inspired characters, the humans less so. With Gremlins director Joe Dante at the helm, it plays like a sequel to that '80s fantasy. Amazing visual effects, of course. --Doug Thomas
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