My memories of the movie “Toys” were fuzzy until I happened upon a recent episode of How Did This Get Made? with hosts, Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas. Everything about this critically-panned Barry Levinson travesty came rushing back to me after a nudge or two from the gang on HDTGM. These guys DO NOT suspend disbelief.
HitFix’s Drew McWeeny joined Paul and Jason (June, Sheer’s wife, was MIA) to discuss this “less-charming and more preachy Willy Wonka.” I’d forgotten how truly bizarre the film was. Jason, as is his way, becomes so appalled at the audacity of the narrative that he has a hard time using his words. His mock, offended posturing could drive this show if it came down to it. The guy is gifted, plain and simple.
My big takeaway from this one wasn’t the comedy though. It was something Paul mentioned about the visual elements in the film. Yep, these guys do their research too. It seems a lot of the costume and set designs drew from the work of Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte’s paintings. Not so ironically, a lot of Magritte’s playful pieces were inspired by a not-so-palyful incident from his childhood. Legend has it, his mother drowned herself when he was 13. When they pulled her from the river, her dress was over her head. See any parallels? You be the judge:
What’s interesting is “Toys” is equally dark, despite its playful facade. As noted by HDTGM’s hosts, Robin Williams plays a creepy man-boy mourning the death of his father. And the only real woman in the movie, played by Robin Wright, is so one-dimensional, she barely exists. This movie really wasn’t a kids movie, though EVERY promotional spot they ran for it would have you believe the opposite at the time. Maybe it’s flogging a dead horse, but this movie needed the critique it got on episode 72.
Great podcast. Great episode. Always an hour well-spent.