Desperate to produce a new line of toys which will meet the approval of their money-hungry boss (Leary), designers Irwin and Larry (David Cross and Mohr) come up with the Tolkienesque Gorgonites and a group of army action figures called the Commando Elite, which can move and talk, thanks to a secret new microchip which was actually designed for use in military weapons. So when the first boxes of the toys are shipped to a small-town store, it comes as no surprise that the pesky pint-sized playthings take on a life of their own – the butch Commandos declaring war on the peace-loving Gorgonites – or that teenagers Alan (Gregory Smith) and Christy (Dunst) are the only ones that can stop them.
A family film that’s a mix of live action and some impressive computer-generated imagery, this is basically a rip-off of Toy Story and Dante’s own Gremlins, which suffers from a sparse plot and scant excitement (how scared would you be of a three-inch doll?). On the plus side, there are some fun vocal characterisations of the dolls by Tommy Lee Jones, Ernest Borgnine, and Spinal Tap-ers Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, but that’s not enough to keep adults or children entertained for the film’s nigh-on two-hour running time.
Is Small Soldiers suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Young viewers may be scared when the toys are on the attack (as a guide, this was given a PG-13 certificate in the US for ‘menacing action and violence’).
Most suitable for the over 8s.