Small Soldiers

Small Soldiers ★★★★

"It's a baton death march!"

The big budget children's entertainment of the 1990s is the savage attack on American values of the 21st century. I would have been 10 when I saw this in theaters (I remember it was the first time I heard anyone use the expression "it sucks"), and at the time I was surprised to see the titular soldiers revealed to be the villains of the piece, but I was too young to really appreciate the (barely) subtext about consumerism, capitalism, militarism, and the disgusting babies the three make together. This is about a giant, unambiguously evil corporation selling a false narrative to kids, about heroic soldiers who are actually bloodthirsty dunderheads fighting against evil monsters who are actually harmless misfits who just want to learn. This would probably cause a 5 or 6-day Twitter outrage cycle if it were released today.

Another detail I was too young to appreciate 18 years ago: When the drugged Fimples fall asleep in front of their TV, you can hear snippets of what I believe to be Harry Shearer doing a Jay Leno impersonation interviewing Michael McKean as a fatuous movie actor. I would love to see/hear their entire improvisation at some point, I bet it's hilarious.

Stay through the end credits if you want to get sad about Phil Hartman again.

Joe liked these reviews