Small Soldiers

Kirsten Dunst, Gregory Smith, David Cross

Directed by Joe Dante
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
July 10, 1998

"Declare your allegiance," barks one of this film's twelve-inch action figures. OK, pal, my allegiance is to the late Phil Hartman, an actor of extraordinary comic gifts. What a shame that his final screen role traps Hartman in a noisy gimmick flick about toy soldiers that come to life and start kicking human ass. It seems that all the ingenuity was lavished on the toys. They include the mutant Gorgonites, led by Archer (voiced by Frank Langella), and the Commando Elite, testosterone-dripping soldiers, led by Maj. Chip Hazard (growled by Tommy Lee Jones).

It took a quartet of screenwriters to come up with the plot, which is surprising since the story is a rehash of Gremlins, also directed by Joe Dante. A corporation run by a smirking Denis Leary invents toys that turn out to be dangerous. The question is, will Alan (Gregory Smith), the teen son of a small-town Ohio toy-store owner, get to stop the malevolent Commando Elite before the toys are widely distributed, help the Gorgonites (they're the good guys) save the world, and kiss Christy (Kirsten Dunst) -- the babe next door? Hartman plays Christy's dad, a conspicuously odious consumer who saws down his neighbor's tree to install a satellite dish. With the recent tragedy, the filmmakers couldn't know that audiences might cringe watching Hartman's character running from an attack or being saddled with a wife (Wendy Schaal) who is woozy on pills. What they could have done was give Hartman a part worthy of his talent. He deserved better.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »