Posted on July 15, 2011  ·   Posted By Dennis and Ray Wray      

The Toy

Last night Ray Wray and I sat down and decided to watch The Toy on NetFlix. For those who are unfamiliar with The Toy, it stars Richard Pryor as a man who is in need of ten thousand dollars to save his house from being auctioned off. It just so happens he is at the right place at the right time when a rich spoiled brat decides to purchase him as a toy.

When I first saw The Toy, I was around seven or eight (only a few years younger than the main character). What I remember most about the movie were all the featured toys; the Wonder Wheel, The Robot Boxing Buddy, and even the remote control peeing dog. I also remember Richard Prior’s wild antics and that the son was the same actor in A Christmas Story that got his tongue stuck to the flag pole. Of course I didn’t see the movie as social commentary on race issues in the ‘80s, since I was only a kid.

Upon watching it again, I can safely say the experience was drastically different. I noticed that this movie had scope. I was fascinated by all of the items in the department store and all the people in the office building. This visual stimulation is probably due to watching the movie in HD (kudos to the director).

Aside from the improved video experience, I found the Jack Brown character a bit hokey. Watching this movie as an adult, I felt sorry for Richard Pryor having to act in this movie. It felt like I was watching Pauley Shore deliver lines and attempt physical comedy. Since my first viewing of The Toy, I’ve seen other Richard Pryor movies and his standup act, and I’d have to say that this was a bona fide paycheck movie. When I was little, I was oblivious. Jack Brown was a hero-type to me like Ernest P. Worrell or Pee Wee Herman, but now Jack Brown has no integrity at all. He is the same person who he is at the beginning of the movie. Aren’t there supposed to be lessons learned and all that good stuff?

After reflecting on The Toy, I would honestly not recommend this movie to anyone. If you have seen this movie before and have a good memory of it, keep it and never watch it again. I said that I felt bad for Richard Pryor, but I feel worse for Ray Wray Kowalczyk, who had to sit through this movie based on my choice and recommendation. Speaking of Ray Wray here’s what she had to say…

1991 Dennis’ Rating: starstarstar        Present Day Dennis’ Rating: star

Ray Wray:

When I heard this was a movie that Dennis watched as a child, I thought back to the childhood live action movies that I hold dear: Mannequin, Labyrinth, Little Monsters, Look Who’s Talking, even Married to the Mob (perhaps the raciest of the bunch, with murder and love scenes). (Just a thought: Why do they all fall in the middle of the alphabet? Hmmm…) I expected something similar from The Toy. Despite the fact that I’d never watched it as a child, I felt like I could live vicariously through Dennis’s experience in a similar watching experience to seeing something like The Wizard for the first time at 20.

But The Toy didn’t bring me any nostalgia, and it should certainly never be considered a “kid movie”. It is rated PG-13 for a reason. From references to the Klan to a secret nudie painting to servants frequently referring to the business tycoon’s kid as Master Bates (Bates is his last name, but STILL, you should see the problem), this movie is lewd and crude in contrast to its super sweet opening credits filled with shots of stuffed animals.

In the most tragic moment of the film, Eric Bates asks Jack Brown (his toy for the week) to explain the birds and the bees to him. (Eric’s language isn’t so proper.) This child/kid/almost adolescent is so neglected by his own parents and the supervisors at his boarding school that he doesn’t have any idea what he needs to be doing with a girl, what he shouldn’t be doing with a girl, or generally how it all works. Brown explains that there’s time later for all that stuff, but now the boy needs to focus on more age-appropriate activities. Yeah, Brown’s lesson is a good one, but this scene is so sad, as the kid doesn’t have a single person in his life to ask these important questions to, and I’m not sure that this issue is ever resolved in the film’s ending.

Ray Wray’s Rating: starstar

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  1. The “bird and the bees” scene was the worst scene of the movie. They should’ve cut it. Unfortunately, it was probably the most genuine moment that these two characters had together.
    They also should’ve utilized the Mr. Morehouse character more.

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