Jul 1, 2022

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, Lord of the Flies, White 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, 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.


  1. So much teenage muscle makes me wonder if the director is gay.

  2. The director was Daniel Petrie, Junior, who produced "Turner and Hooch" and some tv shows. I don't see anything particularly gay in his works.

  3. The script seems to have been written with gay male viewers in mind.

  4. I loved Sean Astin back in the mid 1980s but I had moved on to REAL boyfriends by 1991, so I didn't see this one until years after it was released (and even then, only for Sean).. I honestly don't remember getting any "gay" subtext from this film at all (except for, like you said, the fact that it's a bunch of cute shirtless guys who don't explicitly state that they're straight).. I have the DVD here somewhere; I guess I'll have to dig it out and watch it again.

  5. You can tell it was supposed to be commies until they had to quickly rewrite it after the Berlin Wall fell.

    Seriously, there's so much going on in this movie politically. This was the 90s, when yoU could belong to a white-only country club and still credibly say the other guy was worse. When the pundit class were almost unanimously advocating a return to eugenics. (The old "brain size" argument, now with a corollary for your penis!)

    It's understandable that a movie about the best and the brightest actually doing something other than the usual REMF shtick would be made in 1991.

  6. The director might not be gay but perhaps one of the producers suggested the boys spend so much time in their underwear

  7. I've just watched the movie and loved it ... and George Perez's perky pecs too. So nice.

  8. I wonder if this was the inspiration for all those David DeCoteau cute boys in their underwear movies?


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