Promotional poster for US release of Small Soldiers
|Directed by||Joe Dante|
Steven Spielberg (executive producer; uncredited)
Anne Spielberg (uncredited)
Tommy Lee Jones
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
(USA & Canada)
Small Soldiers is a 1998 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Joe Dante. The film revolves around two adolescents who get caught in the middle of a war between two factions of sentient action figures, the Gorgonites and the Commando Elite.
Critical reception of the film was mixed. Critics complimented the film's special effects, but criticized some of the darker tone of the film, which had been marketed to a young audience, in spite of obtaining a PG-13 rating.
- Plot 1
- Cast 2
- Merchandising 3
- Reception 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- External links 7
The film begins with GloboTech Industries acquiring the Heartland Toy Company. CEO Gil Mars tells remaining toy designers Larry Benson and Irwin Wayfair to develop actual live-action toys capable of "playing back". Mars selects Larry's action figures, the Commando Elite, for the project and Irwin's educational toys, the Gorgonites, for their enemies. After Mars sees a commercial showing the toys doing activities they are incapable of doing, he accuses them of false advertising, saying Globotech delivers on what it promises. Mars then orders Benson to have the toys on the shelves in three months acting just as they do in the commercial or get fired. Faced with such a tight deadline, Benson forgoes safety testing, then uses Irwin's password and chooses GloboTech's overly powerful, X1000 intelligent AI munitions microprocessor integrated circuit to control the toys.
Teenager Alan Abernathy signs off for a shipment of the toys at his family's toy store without his father's consent. He and a delivery truck driver named Joe investigate the toys introducing the Gorgonites' leader Archer and the Commando Elite's leader Chip Hazard. The daughter of Alan's next door neighbor and love interest, Christy Fimple, buys Chip as a birthday present for her brother Timmy. After Archer sneaks to Alan's home in Alan's backpack, Alan realizes that he is a sentient being, but in the meantime, the Commando Elite awaken and apparently destroy the Gorgonites in the toy store. Alan calls the company and fills in a complaint. Later, when Larry and Irwin listen to Alan's voice mail, Irwin is terrified to discover that the X1000 were originally designed for military purposes. Larry and Irwin head to the facility that made the munitions chips, and learn that action figures equipped with the X1000 chips can learn and grow based on their programming. However, they cannot stand an EMP since the shielding required to protect the chips was not cost-effective, which caused the government to shut down the project much to the creator's dismay.
Meanwhile, Chip and his squad pursue Alan to his home and attempt to kill him and Archer. Alan is attacked by Nick Nitro, whom he mortally wounds. The next day, Alan and Archer find the rest of the Gorgonites in a dumpster at the shop. At home, Alan learns that the primary goal of the Gorgonites is to seek their homeland Gorgon, which they mistakenly believe to be powerline to overload it and create such a pulse; Christy, Irwin and Larry head to the Fimples' house to turn on all of the electronic items inside and wedge the power transformers open to reinforce the pulse so it can charge up enough to destroy the Commando Elite. The normally peaceful Gorgonites exit the house and fight back against the Commando Elite. Chip flies to the top of the powerline pole to stop Alan, where he briefly battles and defeats Archer. But just as Chip claims victory, Alan seizes Chip and jams him into the powerline, triggering the EMP blast which kills Chip along with all of the remaining Commando Elite.
The next day, while the police and firefighters are cleaning up, Mars arrives in his helicopter. He pays Joe, the Fimples, and the Abernathys for damages as well as satellite dish. The film ends with him accompanying them into Yosemite National Park, where he sends them out in a large toy boat from his father's store to find their island home of Gorgon as he watches them sail away.
- Gregory Smith as Alan Abernathy
- Frank Langella as the voice of Archer, the leader of the Gorgonites.
- Kirsten Dunst as Christy Fimple
- Tommy Lee Jones as the voice of Major Chip Hazard, the leader of the Commando Elite.
- George Kennedy as the voice of Brick Bazooka, the artillery expert.
- Jim Brown as the voice of Butch Meathook, the sniper.
- Ernest Borgnine as the voice of Kip Killigan, the covert operation expert.
- Clint Walker as the voice of Nick Nitro, the demolition expert.
- Bruce Dern as the voice of Link Static, the communication expert.
- Phil Hartman as Phil Fimple, Christy's father. This role was Hartman's last role in a major film before his death. The film is dedicated to his memory.
- Denis Leary as Gil Mars
- Kevin Dunn as Stuart Abernathy
- Ann Magnuson as Irene Abernathy
- Jay Mohr as Larry Benson
- David Cross as Irwin Wayfair
- Wendy Schaal as Marion Fimple
- Jacob Smith as Timmy Fimple
- Alexandra Wilson as Ms. Kegel
- Dick Miller as Joe
- Robert Picardo as Ralph
- Jonathan Bouck as Brad
- Belinda Balaski as Neighbor
- Rance Howard as Husband
- Jackie Joseph as Wife
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Christina Ricci provided the voices for the transformed Gwendy dolls. Miller and Balaski, who were in the original versions of Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981) (both directed by Dante), also acted in this film.
A Burger King teamed up with the film to promote their new product, the Rodeo Burger. They also created a line of Kids Meal toys tied to the movie. They were met with some controversy after the movie received a 'PG-13' rating from the MPAA. Burger King executives claimed this caught the company by surprise and they were led to believe the movie would receive no higher than a 'PG' rating. While the pamphlet accompanying the toys included the disclaimer "While toys are suitable for children of all ages, the movie Small Soldiers may contain material that is inappropriate for younger children," some restaurants accepted an exchange for Mr. Potato Head toys.
Also, a special livery race car for Bobby Labonte was intended to be raced on July 4, 1998 at the Pepsi 400, which was to run on CBS primetime television. Because of the Florida wildfires, the car was instead raced three months later at the Winston 500 NASCAR race (October 11) on ESPN, where the car (a restrictor plate car) would have been used next.
Small Soldiers received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 48%, based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10.
- Small Soldiers at the Internet Movie Database
- Small Soldiers at AllMovie
- Small Soldiers at Box Office Mojo