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Toy, The

Year: 1982
Studio: Columbia
Director: Richard Donner
Writer: Carol Sobieski/Frances Veber
Cast: Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, Ned Beatty

Richard Pryor when he was still in his straight stage, before the notorious trouble with drugs that aged and prematuraly ejected him from Hollywood's elite. Jackie Gleason is a filthy rich industrialist who tells his son he can have anything he wants, and the obnoxious kid chooses Jack (Pryor), a black janitor at a toy store.

Apparently there's some controversy about the racial subtext in the film today - the idea of a rich white man 'buying' a poor black man for his amusement and the connotations of slavery.

But in 1982 audiences were far less cynical and politically sensitive, so it was received as it was (presumably) presented; as a comedy about a kid who has everything but his father's time and love, and despite being a spoiled brat and making life hell for Jack, learns about friendship through him being there.

Expecting easy money, the reporter doesn't count on what a spoiled brat the kid is, what resources his father has to satisfy his every whim, or how much he'll become the father the kid doesn't have in his biological forebear.

The arc is as predictable as the gags, and the fantasy element (being a kid with everything you could want) is tempered with the expected feel-good theme about how all you need is love. Unspectacular results from all involved but an easy payday.

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