“It Couldn’t Be Better,” by Leland Bond with Douglas Fraser and Alan Graham. That’s a lot of people who went out of their way to make sure they got on the credits.
Lots of haunting synths, hot licks, and snare drums. I’m not sure if this is by Leland Bond, but he’s the only music credit given.
Interesting Dated References: Panama being a vacation destination; Being able to fly a plane to Central America without prior permission.
Best Line: “No, ‘buts,’ young lady,” in reference to a girl saying, “But … ,” and having no butt. “I need a couple pizzas and a case of Bud,” quips Tim Robbins after jogging on the beach.
Social Context: There’s no relevance here. I guess maybe some comments on rampant lawlessness in Central America at the time, but there’s no attempt to tie it to anything political going on, and the property owners rights subplot that fuels the government genocide is an afterthought.
Summary: An ominous looking general with a fabric cock-mound orders the killing of some villagers. This is all set up to let you know we’re dealing with hostile men with large cock-mounds.
In the very next scene, we’re on a boat with a bunch of rich white kids and Jason Miller (Jason Patric’s dad). He’s playing Sarge, an old army vet (of course), hired to captain the ship.
These rich white kids think their life is a Van Halen song, not because they want the best of both worlds right now, but because they are going to Panama.
During the opening voiceover, Sarge gives his rundown of each kid. If you’re concerned, yes, Tim Robbins is one of the kids. Sarge swims out to get the dingy, and the kids decide to sail off on their own. Are you ready for a guitar licks and beer spraying everywhere montage?
I’ve been super wasted, and I’ve never been anywhere where people are spraying fucking beer all over themselves and enjoying the sun this much.
Then, and this is the catalyst for the entire rest of the movie, that “clown,” Tom, hits his head so hard half the college kids decide they need to go ashore and seek help. He hardly hit his head at all! I hit my head harder than that all the time. As luck would have it, they get taken hostage by some government, and there’s some type of forgettable talk about villagers trying to claim property rights. It doesn’t matter.
Sarge returns and immediately starts jogging in the Costa Rican jungle in a feeble attempt to look for the kids. Through a bunch of implausible events including farting gravediggers, pantomiming a dead priest a la Weekend At Bernie’s, and locks being left unlatched, Amy, the smart, normal girl, escapes with Sarge. Also rescued are Amy’s boyfriend and the two drunk dudes (one of who is Tim Robbins) who stayed on the boat.
Back in America, Amy gets the idea to hire Sarge and his army buddy, Buck (Cleavon Little), to go back to Cambodia because, “The government isn’t doing anything” to help her hostage friends.
Dude’s pretty relaxed, just sitting around the pool listening to tapes while his girlfriend walks around in her floppy potato sack sweatpants.
There’s a lot going on here, most of which I won’t even comment on. I forgot to mention Amy’s black butler friend, Ace, is aboard for the rescue, as well. This seems like a lot of hubbub to rescue four people, one of who is dying from having a head injury.
They all go jogging and wear sweats in order to prepare to rescue their friends. For whatever reason, an assassin attempts to kill Amy, but she is able to drown him. Around that same time, the fat guy dies and his body is disposed of at the embassy. So the kids and Sarge invade, then there are 8 million explosions, and just as the American kids are going to be executed, Sarge sets off a bunch of fireworks (literally), which totally incapacitates the enemy, and everyone escapes safely.
Poster and Box Art: Something clearly happened with the original Toy Soldiers poster. The cover of the Betamax appears to be cut out images from the original poster, mixed with early computer generated type. For real, no one would paint one guy, then two people running, then randomly have them pasted onto a white background, and add in type at an angle. My guess is the original poster was deemed too violent, and, even though this is rated-R, they dumbed it down to make it more teen-friendly.
Then, inexplicably, there’s this picture on the back of the box. First off, none of these people are in the movie, let alone tied up in a bamboo cage. I think this was another attempt to make the movie look whacky. That would also explain all the fart sounds edited in during post-production.
Availability: Oddly enough, this is available on DVD under its Spanish title, Guerrilla Salvaje, and the American title, Toy Soldiers. The Spanish version has no English subtitles, and I’d be curious to see if they carried over the fart sounds from the American edition. There were seriously at least 50 fart sounds edited into this movie. You go buy both and let me know because I’m broke.