The Toy (1982)

Down on his luck writer Jack Brown (Richard Pryor) needs to come up with some money quick, or the bank is going to take his house.  The only work he can find is as a night-time cleaning lady at a department store.  One night, while rocking out on his head phones, he’s making a mess of the place and playing with anything he can get his hands on.  That also happens to be the same night the store’s owner, wealthy tycoon U.S. Bates (Jackie Gleason), invites his son to pick out anything he wants from the store.  So naturally the young boy picks out the stand-up comic who at one time set himself on fire while smoking crack.  What kid wouldn’t want that?  Jack is a little more than pissed that some kid wants to buy him, as we’re pretty sure slavery still wasn’t around in the 1980’s.  But his mind is slowly changed for him by the increasingly tall stack of cash that is currently in his outstretched hand.  He really doesn’t have a choice, as he needs the money, so he agrees to be Eric Bates’ toy for a week.

Almost immediately he regrets this business decision, as the kid is really a rotten little shit.  He’s been spoiled all his life, and no one has ever told him ‘no’.  He doesn’t really know how to interact with other people; especially ones that have been bought for him to play with.  Eventually Jack learns to tolerate Eric is small doses, and offers advice that his own father won’t, to try and help him be a better person.  Just when you think things are going well, Jack is deliberately embarrassed at a party by U.S.’s wife and leaves for home.  Soon one of Bates’ goons shows up with a check for $10,000 to come back.

Now Jack and Eric are close friends, who are able to share in the fact that neither one of them care for U.S. as a person.  They go on to write a paper about all of his miss-doings, and hand it out to people on the street. U.S. of course is pissed, but can’t really do anything about it.  Things come to a head however on their last day together, when U.S. throws a fundraiser for the KKK which is also an attempt to blackmail a senator.   This doesn’t sit well with Jack or Eric who trash the party, sending everyone running for their lives; but also end up saving the life of U.S.  It’s only then that Eric and the rich old bastard realize that they really do love each other; and as a thank you, get Jack  a writing job at U.S.’s newspaper.

Alex’s Thoughts:  As a young whipper-snapper, I really liked this movie. Mostly because there are some funny parts, and I was always jealous of all the cool things Eric had.  But watching it now, it’s hard to ignore just how racist this thing is.  A rich guy buying a grown black man for his son to play with?  There is no way this thing would get made today. No way.  The implied notion of slavery is one thing, but also there are some very inappropriate things going on between Jack and Eric.  Maybe it’s just me being a father, but I wouldn’t let my kid be in a movie like that.  I guess if you liked it as a kid it might be a nostalgic thing to watch it again, but if you’ve never seen it, you might want to pick a Richard Prior movie with Gene Wilder in it like Stir Crazy or Hear no Evil, See No Evil.  Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I am going to sound crazy saying this, but this movie could have been good. Yes, but it would have to be so racist it’s nearly uncomfortable (like Blazing Saddles). Unfortunately they try to play that down, only so they can save it for the big finale. This movie is terrible, uninspired and a complete waste of Gleason and Prior’s talents. These guys are comedic giants, and here they are in this unpolished turd. Don’t waste your time, it’s ignorant garbage.  Tim Rates This Movie: 1/10

“Who are we gonna tell God? We are gonna say “Hey God! life’s unfair!” You know what he’s gonna say “Tough Titties!””

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue