For the first time in picture history, the outrageous talent of Richard Pryor and the ingenious comedic sense of Jackie Gleason are combined in the same film. Gleason is U.S. Bates, a megalomaniac millionaire who owns most of south Louisiana. Pryor is Jack Brown, a former journalist who has worked his way down the vocational ladder to the position of janitor in Bates' department store. Among Bates' other vast holdings is a young son Eric (Scott Schwartz), who visits his father for one week a year. Typically, Eric is chauffeured to the department store after-hours to pick out anything he wants. This time, Eric has a more elaborate toy in mind - Jack Brown. So begins the unique relationship that teaches Eric more about life than fun and games.
Jackie Gleason is U.S. Bates, the wealthy owner of a department store. When his bratty young son Eric (Scott Schwartz, A CHRISTMAS STORY) makes one of his annual visits, Bates offers the boy the gift of anything he wants in the store. When Jack Brown (Richard Pryor), an out-of-work journalist working as the store's janitor, makes Eric laugh with his antics, the boy chooses the Brown as his gift. Brown suffers through many indignities and embarrassments in his new position, but eventually teaches the selfish child what it means to have a true friend.
This well-packaged 1983 remake of the French comedy Le Jouet features two legendary actors in an unlikely pairing. Richard Pryor (Live on the Sunset Strip, Stir Crazy) plays a down on his luck writer who is talked into taking a job as a plaything for the spoiled rich kid of billionaire Jackie Gleason (The Hustler), who just can't communicate with his own son. Amidst a constant stream of abuse and slapstick adventures, Pryor manages to bring out the heart in both father and son and bring them closer together, as he fights to retain his own dignity. Director Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon) concentrates on the outlandish set pieces and wisely leaves the comic timing up to the two old pros, making The Toy an entertaining diversion. --Robert Lane
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