×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toy’s House

A full-on fairy tale that could win plenty of friends with its absurdist, caustically funny take on adolescent agitation.

With:
With: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Erin Moriarty, Eugene Cordero, Gillian Vigman, Marc Evan Jackson.

Although it acknowledges that a real world may, in fact, exist, “Toy’s House,” Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ debut feature, is a full-on fairy tale, and one that could win plenty of friends with its absurdist, caustically funny take on adolescent agitation. The fantastical premise is far-fetched — three pals, sick of their parents, build their own house in the woods and learn, with no lasting damage, how not to survive — but nothing else in Chris Galletta’s script can be taken too seriously, either. Still, there are enough laughs and bright performances that neither viewers nor distribs will likely mind.

Anyone who’s been a teenager will see that Joe Toy (Nick Robertson) is being driven mad by his widowed father, Frank (Nick Offerman, “Parks & Recreation”), who has apparently forgotten how excruciating it might be for an adolescent boy to have his father tell the girl he loves (Kelly, played by Erin Moriarty) that he can’t talk now, because he’s grounded and has to go to bed at 7:30.

But Frank is too likable (Offerman’s grumpiness is quite charming) to provoke so much unrest that Joe would really want to live in the woods. The family unit is slightly dysfunctional, but affectionate: Frank even tolerates Colin (Eugene Cordero), the painfully inappropriate boyfriend of daughter Heather (a terrific Alison Brie). And he doesn’t get that mad when Joe scares off Frank’s own new girlfriend (Gillian Vigman).

A better motivation exists for Joe’s best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso), whose noodgy parents (Megan Mullally, Marc Evan Jackson) would test the patience of the Dalai Lama. When Joe finds a pristine spot in the woods near their suburban enclave, he decides that he, Patrick and their strange little non sequitur-spouting friend Biaggio (Moises Arias) will all leave home, build their own house, become men and live in the woods. Patrick and Biaggio agree. Luckily, there’s a Boston Market nearby.

Vogt-Roberts, who has worked mainly in TV (“Mash Up,” “Funny or Die,” “Single Dads”), also made the very smart short film “Successful Alcoholics” in 2010. Like a lot of television comedy, “Toy’s House” is much more interested in the laughs that can be mined from character rather than plot. Galletta’s script, Vogt-Roberts’ direction and the distinctive play of the actors, notably Offerman and Mullally, lets the viewer know who everyone is right away, and the gag lines flow.

Belief, of course, has to be suspended. The spot the boys live in can’t be more than a mile or two from their homes; the most incompetent police officer, like the one played by the reliable Mary Lynn Rajskub, would find these kids in about an hour. Their friends even come to visit them — including Kelly, who makes a play for Patrick, thus sending Joe and their friendship over the edge.

While a movie with the straining-for-wordplay title of “Toy’s House” isn’t even pretending to be serious, the film has real visual chops; at the beginning, the camera movement, the unusual framing and the editing suggest the untidy workings of an unstructured adolescent mind. Later, matters turn a bit grimmer, but not so much as to totally wreck the mood.

Tech credits are tops, with Ross Riege’s lensing well supported by Ryan Putz, Marlowe Taylor and William McGuigan’s soundwork.

Toy's House

Production: A Low Spark Films presentation of a Big Beach/Low Spark Films production. Produced by Tyler Davidson, Peter Saraf, John Hodges. Executive producers, Richard Rothfeld, Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Co-producer, Robert Ruggeri. Co-executive producers, Andrew Brickman, Michael Razewski, Jeffrey A. Green, Susan Wasserman, Allan Marks, Alyson Winick. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Screenplay, Chris Galletta.

Crew: Camera (color), Ross Riege; editor, Terel Gibson; music, Ryan Miller; production designer, Tyler Robinson; art director, Jennifer Klide; set decorator, Carmen Navis; costume designer, Lynette Meyer; sound, Ryan Putz, Marlowe Taylor; sound designer/re-recording mixer, William McGuigan; assistant director, Louis Hagney; line producer, Ted Deiker; casting, Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 19, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Erin Moriarty, Eugene Cordero, Gillian Vigman, Marc Evan Jackson.

More Film

  • Three Identical Strangers

    Film News Roundup: 'Three Identical Strangers' Feature Adaptation Taps 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Writer

    In today’s film news roundup, “Three Identical Strangers” is moving ahead, Skeet Ulrich has been cast with Tom Hanks, the “Minions” sequel has been titled and “Vegas Dave” is getting a movie. MCCARTEN ATTACHED “Bohemian Rhapsody” screenwriter Anthony McCarten will write and produce the feature adaptation of the documentary “Three Identical Strangers.” Raw, Film4 and [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho, Choi Woo-shik. Director Bong

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Earns Five-Minute Cannes Ovation

    Just days after the announcement of the selection of “Parasite” for main competition at the Cannes Film Festival, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho warned members of the local press not to expect his film to win the Palme d’Or. He also suggested that the film was “hyper local” and possibly difficult for foreign audiences to [...]

  • 'Parasite' Review: A Brilliant, Bleak Bong

    Cannes Film Review: 'Parasite'

    A laugh turns into a snarl which gets stuck in the throat like a sob — or an arrow through the neck — in Bong Joon-ho’s latest wild, wild ride, “Parasite.” On paper, that might not sound so very different from the experience of watching Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” “Memories of Murder” “The Host” or “Okja.” The [...]

  • 'Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About

    'Diego Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About His Cannes Doc

    Global sports icon and lauded soccer player Diego Maradona’s dramatic life intrigued Oscar and BAFTA winner director Asif Kapadia (“Amy,” “Senna”) while he was still in film school. “It had an incredibly strong backstory and extremes of good and dark,” he recalls. Fast-forward to more than 20 years later as his feature documentary, “Diego Maradona” [...]

  • the long walk

    Stephen King's 'The Long Walk' Film Taps 'Scary Stories to Tell' Director

    New Line has tapped André Øvredal to direct the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s dystopian thriller “The Long Walk.” Øvredal’s credits include mystery thriller “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” and the upcoming horror film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro and releasing on Aug. 9. James Vanderbilt [...]

  • Central Partnership Inks Multiple Deals on

    Cannes: Central Partnership Inks Multiple Deals on 'Billion' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s Central Partnership has closed several territory sales on Roman Prygunov’s comedy crime thriller “Billion.” Central Partnership has sold the movie to China (Jetsen Huashi Media), Turkey (ATV), France and French-speaking territories (Trade Media), Bulgaria (A Plus Film) and Baltics (GPI). The film centers on banker Matvey Levin, who goes to great lengths to avoid [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content