Small Soldiers

1998

Small Soldiers

Critics Consensus

Small Soldiers has plenty of visual razzle-dazzle, but the rote story proves disappointingly deficient in director Joe Dante's trademark anarchic spirit.

48%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 44

44%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 123,408
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Movie Info

Director Joe Dante and his producer, Steven Spielberg, are reunited for a darkly comic, and ultimately weak knockoff of their magical 1984 creation, "Gremlins."

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Cast

Gregory Smith
as Alan Abernathy
Denis Leary
as Gil Mars
Phil Hartman
as Phil Fimple
David Cross
as Irwin Wayfair
Jay Mohr
as Larry Benson
Kirsten Dunst
as Christy Fimple
Kevin Dunn
as Stuart Abernathy
Ann Magnuson
as Irene Abernathy
Wendy Schaal
as Marion Fimple
Tommy Lee Jones
as Maj. Chip Hazard
Ernest Borgnine
as Kip Killagin
Jim Brown
as Butch Meathook
Bruce Dern
as Link Static
George Kennedy
as Brick Bazooka
Clint Walker
as Nick Nitro
Christopher Guest
as Slamfist/Scratch-It
Michael McKean
as Insaniac/Freakenstein
Harry Shearer
as Punch-It
Christina Ricci
as Gwendy Doll
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Critic Reviews for Small Soldiers

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (12)

Audience Reviews for Small Soldiers

  • Feb 04, 2016
    Too disturbing to really be a kid film, Small Soldier brings back childhood memory thanks to the Toy Story like storyline with an adult twist.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2013
    I saw this when it first came out in the cinema way way back in good old 1998, the air was cleaner back then. *Cough!* sorry!...anyway I didn't really like it as I recall, it was hyped up pretty strongly but didn't really live it up to it. Surprise surprise on a re-watch I have done a 180 and now do appreciate the film a whole lot more, I guess I didn't quite get the tone first time round. Set in small town USA two sets of brand spanking new hi-tec toys are due for release but a small batch get an early chance of sales in a local toy shop. The shop is run by a humble man who has a slightly rebellious son, naturally this lad gets into some small fry high jinx (that builds) with these toys as they break loose and run amok. One set of toys are the good guys and one set are supposedly the bad guys, one group has been programmed to destroy the other and the local family is slap bang in the middle. Basically this is a modern remake of 'Gremlins' and I never even twigged back in the day. The whole premise is pretty much the same albeit in a lighter tone of course, replace monsters with killer toys. Everything is very cliched and pretty stereotypical of small town America, the film is actually a very good little homage to those classic 80's teen flicks that involved monsters/aliens/the supernatural etc...Hell they even cast classic 80's stars Wendy Schaal and Dick Miller, who of course has starred in some perfect examples of typical 80's trashy horror comedies, including 'Gremlins' (that's not trashy by the way). Miller even plays a similar type of role to his 'Gremlins' character, direct homage to the genre right there if you ask me. Had this been made back in the day it probably would have been pretty dark, but lets give credit where credits due, this film is also quite dark. Its not scary and its not bloody of course but there is a nice undercurrent of evil that lurks within these toy soldiers. You would think how can a toy injure me, but give these little guys a big knife or nail gun and all of a sudden you've got a problem. This is how the film works well in my opinion, they don't hold right back with the action, yeah sure most of it is kinda silly, almost cute, but there are some slightly nasty moments where they have successfully tweaked the hairs on the back of your neck. The sadistic knife wielding 'Barbie-ish' girly dolls are a good example of this. The sequences with them involved aren't scary but its certainly heading down eerie street as they scamper around with damage to their faces and no hair. Almost a PG version of 'Chucky'...almost. The toys themselves are a mixed for me. On the one hand the gruff, butch, muscle bound military special elite soldiers are really nicely. Love the cliched cartoonish caricatures of the typical buzz cut 80's macho action man, especially the cigar chomping ones. Not only do they look like a typical dirty dozen team with each member a master in his own field (explosives, communications etc...), but they got Borgnine, Walker, Brown and Kennedy to voice them! awesome much?!. The other two remaining soldiers are voiced by Tommy Lee Jones and Bruce Dern so really its nothing short of sheer brilliance. And again back in the day I didn't even realise. Of course you have to remember that even though these little guys have been deliberately designed to homage their voice actors to a degree (and the action man genre). They are also suppose to be stereotypical action figures within the film, the type of toys that little boys would clearly love, look at their their names...'Brick Bazooka' 'Nick Nitro'. The characters work on two levels of the conventional stereotype. On the other hand the Gorgonites are a very surreal bunch that didn't really fit the style of the film methinks. Their leader 'Archer' is pretty cool looking and sounds epic voiced by Langella but the rest are a crazy ass bunch of monsters that would feel more at home in a Tim Burton fairytale really. I'm not sure why they didn't keep all the Gorgonites the same type of creature as their leader Archer just with different colours or patterns on the fur (go down the Thundercat route). I did like the dark twisted appearance of one or two of them sure, almost a bit 'Evil Dead-ish' if you ask me but they just don't fit this flick. I do recall that a lot of the hype for this film was down to the Stan Winston effects for the toys. To be fair these effects still remain solid today, gotta give kudos to the actual design and creation of all those action figures because they do look great, I'd have one. The CGI is also not too bad these days, its used for the more obvious requirements but blends in well. On the whole they managed to use both real props/models and CGI effectively together instead of just relying on all out computer effects. This film shows me how you change as you get older, when I first saw it I couldn't care a less about it and didn't pick up on half the details. Now I can see clearly what they were trying to do and I think it works pretty well really. Its not anywhere near as good as some of the 80's classics but it can hold it head up high as a decent entry into the comedy horror genre. I say comedy horror with a pinch of salt as its not totally like that, more a watered down kiddie PG version but still good still good.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2013
    Hilariously entertaining, Small Soldiers delivers an adventurous and action-packed film. When a new line of action figures with smart chips take their programming too seriously they turn a small town into a war zone. Featuring some impressive casting that includes Kirsten Dunst, Tommy Lee Jones, Frank Langella, and Phil Hartman, there's a ton of talent in both the regular and voice casts. The special effects are also pretty remarkable, particularly the CGI and animatronics. Yet the script is a bit weak, and has trouble managing all of the characters and subplot. And, the comedy becomes cartoonish near the end. But even with its flaws, Small Soldiers is a fun filled comedy with some clever satire on the toy industry.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 22, 2012
    I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid, and it's still great now. Even though the whole thing is a little ridiculous in concept, seeing toys attack people to the song "War" is funny and entertaining. The film has it's own weird little sense of humor, and some of the scenes are quite dark, which is strange for a movie about toys; but this is what makes it stand out. I can understand why kids would love this movie. It's about toys that come to life and attack each other and people. When a kid is playing with toys, that's sort of what they imagine, so the film is kind of like a projection of what playtime means to a kid. Small Soldiers is a dark, twisted, funny, and ultimately entertaining 90's romp.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer

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