Holding the Top Spot: The Toy

Oct 31, 2012 by


I recall being intrigued by baseball box scores at a young age.  What other format can better provide an informative summary of baseball game so simplistically yet so perfectly?  Kudos to Henry Chadwick for inventing the box score somewhere around 1859 – it truly stands the test of time.

Reading the Boston Globe sports page became my morning ritual while growing up in New England.  I would read all the columns from the beat writers as they examined the daily clubhouse happenings of the Celtics, Sox, Pats and Bruins.  The back pages of the sports section is where I spent the majority of my time.  Two pages of league standings, box scores, rankings and leaders in particular stat categories clearly gave me all the information I needed heading to school that day.  I only had to read it once to recite anything of importance during lunchtime conversation with my friends.

The sports page was my gateway drug for my appreciation and fascination with pop culture lists, such as the billboard top 40, movie box office numbers and end of year “best of” lists.  I gobbled up this information like my existence depended on it.  I then began creating lists of my own.

My wife says I have slight tendencies towards OCD – her assessment could be accurate.  Either way I went undiagnosed and continued filling up notebooks with top 10 lists of everything that mattered to me at that point in my life.  Top 10 favorite songs of the week, top 10 most watched MTV music videos, top 10 baseball players of 1984, and so on.  I am sure you get the point…I deemed these topics important enough to chronicle. Why I felt this way also went undiagnosed.

It wasn’t until Rob Gordon preached about the importance of his very own top 5 lists in the film High Fidelity that I felt comfortable talking about my secret list keeping  to a few select friends and family.  I am sure they still think I am off my rocker.

I remember things began to get out of hand when I discovered, at 10 or 11, my strange obsession with tournament brackets of any kind, most notably, the NCAA basketball tournament bracket.  I would fill out my own hypothetical scenarios of the tournament results more than a dozen times before the start of the tournament.  I then took my idiosyncrasy to even a stranger level.   One afternoon alone in my room, I created a 128 player tennis tournament bracket and filled out the results (with scores of each of the sets) until a champion was written out on the final line.  Time not wisely spent for sure, but it gave me something to do.  I have to say, for an eleven year old to rattle off the names of 128 ATP players was impressive.  At least I think it was.


My childhood recollection regarding my fascination of lists and whatnot led me to this….

I recently read an article on Grantland by Chuck Klosterman.  Klosterman’s piece titled What’s Behind Room 237 looks at a documentary he recently saw about the classic horror film, The Shining.  The film, Room 237, examines five secret meanings from five different theorists of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece.  Klosterman then writes about what he calls Immersion Criticism.  Klosterman defines immersion criticism as such, “It’s based on the belief that symbolic, ancillary details inside a film are infinitely more important than the surface dialogue or the superficial narrative.”  It’s a worthwhile read and I intend to check out the Room 237 someday as well.

What stuck with me about this Grantland article was Klosterman’s statement “The movie I’ve watched the most times is Dazed and Confused…).

That got me thinking, what film have I watched the most in my lifetime?  After two seconds of thought I had my answer.  This was easy to answer only because I actually once kept a list on this very topic.

The movie I watched the most starred Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason.  If you are of Generation X, then you know the film I speak of, and you probably didn’t even hesitate.

The Toy.

Since I rarely watch movies over and over again like I did as an adolescent, by my account The Toy must still hold this prestigious top spot with me.  A close second might be Almost Famous.

It’s not important to know the plot, if you haven’t seen The Toy by now, it’s perfectly fine to go on with your life.  I would like to add, a movie like this would not be made in Hollywood’s uber politically correct and overly sensitive climate of today.  However, in the 80’s Hollywood studios didn’t give a fuck about sensitive material intended for a child audience, especially if it became profitable.  And The Toy was just that, making $47 million at the box office.

Since Hollywood has not had an original idea since…let’s just say it’s been some time now, everything from our past is now being remade.  However, I feel that studio execs aren’t touching this one anytime soon.  And I am ok with that.

I did not see The Toy in the theater.  I amassed my totals (over 50 viewings!) through cable TV; first on HBO, who while repetitive today, was even more so back then.  Once HBO had had their fill, along came TBS, TNT and like cable television networks showing the film every weekend.  So by 1992, ten years after its release, I must have watched this movie at least 40 times.



My favorite Richard Pryor movie however is not The Toy.  It’s the classic prison break film, Stir Crazy, with his buddy Gene Wilder.

Please don’t ask me to write up anything regarding my other lists.  I have nothing to say about Duran Duran’s The Reflex (number one on my favorite song list in April of 1984) or why Fair Warning by Van Halen stood at number one on my top albums of all time from 1981 through 1983.

Nothing.  At. All.

468 ad

Leave a Comment