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Unemployed journalist Jack Brown is having a hard time fixing that problem. The job market in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana just isn't looking too good lately, forcing him to find employment as a maid for local tycoon U.S. Bates. After Bates cans him for refusing to shave his mustache -and for being a man- Jack sneaks on board the night cleaning crew at one of U.S.' retail outlets.
After murdering an innocent Wonder Wheel while comically fooling around with the stores wares, Jack catches the attention of Eric, U.S. Bates' spoiled rotten son. Eric is there after hours with some of daddy's men to pick out any toy in the store, and he's just made his selection; he wants Jack. Everyone but Eric thinks this is a bad idea, but what he says goes, and he knows enough about spoiled rottenness to know that everyone has a price. So Eric's chaperons stuff a bunch of money in Jack's hands, promise to give Wonder Wheel a decent burial, and then box him up in a crate to bring home with Eric.
Once there, Jack quickly tires of Eric's horrid behavior and humiliating pranks and he storms out, still decked out in too-tight Spider-Man pajamas, to return home; to hell with the money. Problem is, Eric is lonely enough to beg his dad get him back by any means. U.S. offers Jack enough money to pay off his mortgage, which he all-too eagerly accepts. But Eric's brattyness has got to go, so Jack cuts through the boy's Jerkass Facade and begins befriending the Lonely Rich Kid underneath.
Though its premise is a bit controversial, The Toy is still a pretty damn funny film with some surprisingly sweet moments, and it offers a rare chance to see two legendary comedians playing off each other. Oh, and Gleason's trophy wife has some nice new boobs.
This film includes examples of:
- Butt Monkey: Eric makes Jack one for the first half of the movie with his humiliating pranks, and U.S. makes Mr. Morehouse one for the second half by forcing him to fire an associate just for having sweaty hands, and later forcing him to pull down his pants in front of Jack just to make a point about how much power U.S. really has.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: It's Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason in the same movie. Take your pick.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Plenty to go around once Eric learns to stop being an awful little shit, but the end of the movie has the best by far, when U.S. and Eric finally say "I love you" to one another.
- Deep South: Averted, thank God. The movie was filmed on location in Baton Rouge, a major metropolitan area, so Donner couldn't have gotten away with it if he wanted to.
- Here We Go Again: The film ends with one of Fancy's friends offering Jack a job being her son's toy. Jack responds by snapping and hauling ass down the road.
- Ironic Echo: "Is it really that bad out there?" "It's worse."
- Ms. Fanservice: Fancy, U.S. newest wife.
- Running Gag: You'd think U.S. would learn to either move his dominoes or just glue the damn things in place.
- Also, everyone pronouncing his name "You Ass." By the end, he only allows Jack to get away with it.
- Parental Abandonment: Eric has nannies, au pairs and butlers around to take care of him, but he really wants his dad to do the job.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: U.S. wants his son to know that being wealthy means never having to say you're sorry. Jack notes that's about the only thing Eric does understand.
- Undercranking: Used at a couple of points, most notably when Jack wades into a piranha-infested creek and then leaps out, running across the surface of the water back to shore.
- Unfortunate Implications: A rich, white guy buying a black man? Yeah, saying there are Unfortunate Implications here is a fair cop. Don't go patting yourself on the back for noticing this, though: it's lampshaded repeatedly throughout the movie.
- You Didn't Ask: Eric's explanation to Jack as to why they are breaking into U.S.' printing press when Eric has the key.