Anyone who's older than about 18 is going to watch this movie and get such an overwhelming sense of deja vu that a trip to the hospital may become a very serious consideration. You'll soon ask yourself, "Did somebody switch the Coke dispenser with electric Kool-Aid or am I just flipping out here?" Don't panic: You're simply experiencing what's called a "Reagan flashback," wherein those afflicted believe they've been transported to the 1980s and thus feel a need to harm themselves in some way.
This "Reagan Flashback" is compliments of director Joe Dante, who seems to have saved that screenplay file from years ago, cracked it open and run a a find/change command where "find" = "Gremlins" and "change to" = "Commando Elite." This guy has all the creativity of a professional wrestling promoter. Apparently the royalties from "The Burbs" are no longer paying the bills.
So, in "Small Soldiers" a kid named Alan (Gregory Smith) gets a hold of some weird toys which have military computer chips in them that allow them to think and learn. There are also peaceful toys, called Gorgonites, whose leader, Archer (voice of Frank Langella), tries to warn Alan that the Commando Elite, led by Chip Hazard (voice of Tommy Lee Jones), are going to hunt the Gorgonites down. Naturally, a battle ensues wherein the bad Gremlins, er, Commando Elite, wreak havoc trying to find the good Gremlins, er, Gorgonites. In the process, they blow up a lot of stuff.
I guess it's nice to live in an age where America hasn't been involved in any major wars for awhile, freeing Hollywood types to hijack elements of our last consequential conflict, Vietnam, for a cheap Saturday-morning cartoon ripoff -- and in the process take a giant, steaming crap all over the men and women who actually sacrificed their lives to keep this country free. Perhaps Dante thinks he's doing for pacifism what the Marines did for Guadalcanal, but I doubt it. Instead, he's likely to simply take his director's fee, buy himself a Hummer, and go tooling around L.A. pretending to be G.I. Joe.
To spread the word about this Small Soldiers review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.