“The Toy Soldiers”
The Innocence of the Young
In just one evening a young man’s innocence is cast aside and a family comes apart. “The Toy Soldiers” is made up of five coming-of-age stories that show us the various stages of grief. There is the youthful mother who finds peace with the bottle. Her ex-husband’s abuse still haunts the children; a nineteen year-old drug addict, and his younger brother, a bullied closet homosexual. There’s the story of the dog and of a teen who offers sexual favors to gain acceptance, the challenged classmate who would do anything for her love, and the redhead beauty, haunted by a secret, tragic past. The lives of these characters and others change forever on this final evening right before The Toy Soldiers Roller Rink that is their hangout, closes its doors for the final time. This is an intense look at the real complexities that are faced by teens and their families. Even though it is set in the 1980s, the issues are relevant today.
Some of the descriptions of the film have included such words as startling, shocking, topical, innovative, controversial, and powerfully courageous. We find ourselves in a California beach town littered with teen hangouts along a carnival pier. “The Toy Soldiers” takes place primarily in a roller rink/arcade and follows six principal characters whose lives intersect on the final day before their favorite hangout is torn down to be replaced by condos. For the characters, this is the only world they know.
The characters try to express themselves genuinely in a society that is busy trying to understand itself. ”We see these gut-wrenching stories daily. We watch, we sigh, and then we forget, until we move on to the next You Tube video, where a teen girl gives her final statement before committing suicide in her bedroom. While this is not an easy film to watch, it is a rewarding.