Starring: Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan, Andrew Divoff, R. Lee Ermey, Denholm Elliott, Louis Gossett Jr.
Running Time: 111 minutes
Hitting cinema screens in 1991 TOY SOLDIERS was the directorial debut of Daniel Petrie Jr., and it’s finally making its way to Blu-Ray and DVD. Graced with the cult classic title, the film delivers a balance of action, adventure and a hint of comedy. There are some off the wall moments, but it all adds to the charm of a 90s teen movie.
Set in The Regis School, or “Rejects” School as it’s known by its misfit students, is the last stop boarding school for rebellious teens. Dean Parker (Louis Gossett, Jr.) manages to keep these disorderly boys in check, with the exception of Billy Tepper (Sean Astin) and his friends; Joey (Wil Wheaton), Snuffy (Keith Coogan), Ricardo (George Perez), Hank (T.E. Russell), and Donoghue (Knowl Johnson). Billy has a talent for trouble, from selling vodka disguised as mouthwash to hacking the school’s phone line to talk to sex chat lines; he’s out to have fun and loathes authority.
Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff) takes on the villainous role, as if you couldn’t tell by the 90s standard of a beard and ponytail. Luis is the ruthless son of a Colombian drug trafficker. When Cali’s father is extradited to America to stand trial, Luis and his crew invade the school to kidnap Donoghue, the son of the presiding judge. Unfortunately Luis is late in discovering that Donoghue has already been taken into protective custody. Not to be deterred, Cali realises the remaining students are just as valuable and uses them as leverage. Billy and his friends use their mischievous talents to devise a plan to help take down the terrorists. As the tagline goes ‘years of bad behaviour is about to pay off’.
Whilst the plot is a little eccentric you wouldn’t expect anything less from a 90s classic. You can certainly expect to be entertained; enthralled from start to finish the absurdity has you gripped. It’s unfortunate not to see many teen action-adventure films in theatres anymore, which makes movies like TOY SOLDIERS that extra bit special.
The cast add a personality to the film, particularly the younger actors. Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton graced screens with classics that delight audiences still, Astin in THE GOONIES and Wil Wheaton in STAND BY ME, there is expectations for these actors deliver. Deliver they did as their performances got them nominated for a Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture.
The film has been given the Blu-Ray treatment from 101 Films as part of their ‘Cult Movie Collection’. The transfer is reasonable, but part of the charm is that nostalgic imperfection.
This 90s gem certainly deserves the title of cult classic, blending elements of DIE HARD and THE GOONIES. Embracing the 90s teen attitude TOY SOLDIERS is a joy to watch and now to own. In 1991 the film was criticised for its excessive violence which seems laughable now. The action is dated as well as absurd in places, but is ultimately pure entertainment.
[usr=4] TOY SOLDIERS is available to buy now on Blu-Ray right here.