Dark Horse  

by director Todd Solondz

It’s true that Toys “R” Us declined to give me permission to shoot inside any of their stores for any amount of time on any day or night anytime of the year—they just didn’t particularly want any association with me or my movies, even if there were no sex or violence or troubling subject matter—and so I had to go to the Dominican Republic to find an adequate substitute. There simply is no rival to the Toys “R” Us empire in the U.S., its power remains supreme and unchallenged. Even their literature—the circulars they slip into Sunday newspapers and mailboxes—casts a mesmerizing spell: my 3-year-old never tires of thumbing through the pages of its colorful toy ads, especially at bedtime—it’s where he first learned to say, “I want this.” It taught him to want so many things! Not even Dr. Seuss can compete—although if it were advertised in the circular it would be another story. The ads with their pictures of happy children playing with all sorts of toys and games and huggable stuffed animals truly expand children’s minds and imaginations, in directions few parents can anticipate. “What’s this?” my son asks me, pointing at a rainbow-colored doodad. “I like,” he replies, deeply satisfied, after I tell him I don’t know. The fake, the “fun”, the sugary—it’s all there at Toys “R” Us—at “prices you can’t beat” (but really who has the time/energy to check?). So, I suppose making this movie helped me better understand the price paid for getting what you want. Or not. Toys are us.

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