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Small Soldiers

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Small Soldiers

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Gregory Smith
Director: Joe Dante
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: July 1998
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Jay Mohr, Phil Hartman, Kevin Dunn, Denis Leary

Review by Jerry Saravia
No Rating Supplied

"Small Soldiers" is director Joe Dante doing his latest Gremlins confection, and it's mean-spirited fun, once the movie gets its engines rolling.

"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

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