Apr 16, 2016

Toy Soldiers: Muscle on Parade

Every once in a while, a movie producer hires all of the teen hunks he can find, puts them in an all-male environment, and orders a script that involves fighting a common adversary with their shirts off, thus ensuring the avid interest of every gay boy in the world: Tom Brown's School Days, Bless the Beasts and Children, Lord of the Flies, White Water SummerWhite Squall.  In 1991, the movie was Toy Soldiers.


The plot: terrorists take over an elite prep school for the sons of the wealthy and powerful, and take the boys and their headmaster hostage.  The boys use their troublemaking skills to gather intel on the terrorists, and wise-cracking operator Billy Tepper (20-year old Sean Astin, left) sneaks out to brief the adults.

When they turn out to be ineffectual, Billy and his friends, including comic relief Snuffy (21-year old Keith Coogan, middle) and surly bodybuilder Ricky (19-year old George Perez, right), go on the offensive, incapacitating several terrorists, disabling their bomb, and leading the  younger kids to safety, just in time to be "rescued."



Other boys include the rich "jerk" Joey (19-year old Wil Wheaton, well known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: the Next Generation).




And T. E. Russell as the pragmatic Hank.







Sean Astin (Billy) was a major teen idol of the period, with roles in The Goonies, The War of the Roses, White Water Summer, and Rudy).  

Keith Coogan (Snuffy) was a former child star with credits in Adventures in Babysitting and The Book of Love.  






There's some buddy-bonding between Billy and Snuffy, but with a large ensemble cast, it's not well developed.

However, heterosexual interest is absent, except for a scene in which Billy confiscates a Playboy from one of the younger kids.  There are references to getting laid and masturbation, but no one mentions a girlfriend or a desire for girls.

Absence of expressed heterosexual desire is almost unheard-off in a teen movie of the 1990s, giving viewers permission to read one or more of the boys -- or all of them -- as gay.





And the parade of underwear-clad, towel-clad, and shirtless teenage muscle (or rather young adult muscle, since all of the actors were over 18) didn't hurt.

Sean Astin would go on to lasting fame as Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings.  

Keith Coogan now hosts The Call Sheet, a celebrity interview podcast.

Both are vocal gay allies.