Toys was a surreal 1992 comedy directed, co-written, and co-produced by Barry Levinson. Supposedly it was the film he had always wanted to make, but the film was generally not well received by either critics or audiences; Levinson was given a Razzie nomination, while the film earned two technical Academy Award noms. It starred Robin Williams as Leslie Zevo, a man who gets passed up for the inheritance of the toy factory and company of his father Kenneth (Donald O'Connor) despite his dedication because he has never really grown up himself. Instead Kenneth leaves the factory to his brother, General Leland Zevo (Michael Gambon). This turns out to be a bad move, since the general and his camouflage-obsessed son Patrick (LL Cool J) soon bring martial law to the factory and even start planning to use toys as secret war machines.
Axe Crazy: The General has his moments, such as using a pistol to kill a fly in his office
Batman Gambit: Not once, but twice, and by Kenneth, who's in the film for all of five minutes.
Kenneth's plan to have Leland take over the company is really a plan to help his son grow up and take charge of matters. It's very likely he knew to begin with (or at least suspected) that Leland's control of Zevo Toys would cause trouble that Leslie would have to face and overcome.
It's also revealed later that he hand-picked Gwen as a new hire the day before he died, figuring correctly Leslie would fall for her, and vice-versa.
Leslie: You met my dad?
Gwen: Yep. He was the one who hired me. The day before he died. Hand-picked. I don't know why... well, maybe I do know why...
"Before" and "After" Pictures: Leslie Zevo finds one of the photocopier pictures taken of the toy company's new secretary along with his cousin-in-law Patrick and says it's a "before-and-after picture of Michael Jackson."
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Even after his plan fell apart, General Leland could have made a fortune just selling his way-ahead-of-the-time video games. Seriously, the things incorporated no-glasses 3d in the early 90s. If you took off the real weapons, his "war toys" were pretty kick-ass as real toys as well.
Cutting the Knot: Leslie and company duck into a room to evade the Tommy Tanks, who proceed to blow the door open with tiny rockets.
Ice-Cream Koan: "Treat your friends like your enemies and your enemies like your friends."
Leslie's motto? "Treat your friends like your friends and your enemies like your enemies."
Insult Backfire: When General Zevo tells Leslie, "You're as big a fool as your father ever was!" Leslie gets a touched look and says, "Really? ...You think so? ...Thanks!"
Intelligible Unintelligible: The Old General (Leland and Kenneth's father, played by Jack Warden) is senile and almost completely unintelligible, but Leland has no problems understanding what he's saying, having been around him so long. If you listen carefully, some of the Old General's conversation is clear enough for you to get the gist. All of their conversations play out like this. See Not Even Bothering with the Accent below for an example.
Kick the Dog: When playing an arcade game, Leland is annoyed that UN trucks keep getting in his line of fire, and eventually just stops caring and destroys them on sight, despite the game penalizing him for it.
The general later has his own line of games commissioned that rewards players (all young children) for civilian casualties.
Killer Rabbit: The first "toys" that the heroes encounter during the break-in.
My Little Panzer: The film focused on the new owner of a toy factory switching production to toy tanks and helicopters armed with real weapons he meant to sell to the military. He also starts a videogame division to get kids into violence in order to have future soldiers that are used to the piloting system he plans to use for those toys.
Myopic Architecture: The Tommy Tanks try to break into the warehouse where Leslie and company are hiding. After a few bashes on the door, they decide to blow up the wall next to it.
Nostalgia Filter: "There isn't going to be another war—not like you and I know it! War has changed!"
Leland: Oh, I went to see a linguist! Yes, I went to see a dialect coach, and the best I could do was [indistinct drawl] "You men stand over there, on my notation, until further notice." [British] They didn't buy it!
The Old General:mumblemumble Jersey City mutter...
Punch Clock Villain: The Security Mooks. Most of the new Security people are guilty only of wearing an intimidating looking uniform, although a couple of them are spying on Leslie even outside of the factory, on Leland and Patrick's orders.
Rose Haire Sweetie: Alsatia is a live-action version. She embodies all the social and personality qualities of this, and even has pink hair (in the form of a helmet of molded plastic doll-hair) for a little while.
Rule of Symbolism: The climactic battle is between an army of robotic, military drones and a warehouse of traditional toys. It amounts to a prolonged sequence of slow motion teddy bear explosions to a background of Enya. It's meant to symbolize the destruction of innocence, that war corrupts everything it touches. Levinson has said that he thinks of the film as being about not allowing your childhood "thoughts" (i.e. innocence) to disappear in adulthood.
The film contains several references to the work of surrealist painter René Magritte; at one point, Leslie and Alsatia dress up in bright-red versions of the famous trenchcoat and bowler hat that Magritte stuck on many of his subjects.
Villainous Breakdown: Leland completely loses his mind when his proposal for a drone army is rejected by Washington.
The military leaders he proposed it to were agreeing with his plan (the Russians were starting their own spy drone project) until one of them unwittingly pushed one of Leland's Berserk Buttons and he snapped.
Wallpaper Camouflage: Patrick does this several times, but is also well-versed in the idea of misdirection as camouflage.
The Walls Are Closing In: There's a non-lethal parody where Robin Williams's character and others find themselves in a room that keeps getting smaller as square sections of wall close in one at a time; the walls come right up to the sides of the conference table and stop, by which time everyone is crouched on top of the table. It's meant to convey that General Leland is expanding other areas of the toy factory for his own nefarious purposes.
Leslie: We're being attacked by a crossword puzzle.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Leland's ancient father can't speak clearly, but he never lets his son forget that he is a four-star general, and Leland's only a three-star.
Leland: I can't change sides, you silly old fart! There's no side to change sides to!
Zerg Rush: The thinking behind arming toy vehicles. For the cost of one stealth bomber, General Leland can give you a million weapons platforms undetectable by radar.
Also the thinking behind Leslie's mobilisation of the normal toys. They may not be dangerous, but there are so many that Leland's war toys can't effectively target anything, and a few are able to deactivate the weapons by sheer chance.