Erik Peter Carlson
Jeanette May Steiner
The Toy Soldiers (R)
Comedy 140 min. November 14, 2014
Though it comments on how movies about teenagers seldom convey how much being that age sucks — the character of Angel (Najarra Townsend) states as much — the picture still plays by certain rules of commercial filmmaking: While a major theme is that teenage boys are often cruel and asshole-ish (true enough), the conceit that the quite fetching Layla (Jeanette May Steiner) is considered ugly enough to be called a "dog" just doesn't scan. Nor is the 2½-hour running time entirely justified; for as compelling as an individual thread or scene might be, the picture as a whole lacks forward momentum, as is often the case with films with asynchronous timelines. That said, since it actually strives to be about something and speak to emotional truths, The Toy Soldiers still has more business being 144 minutes than, say, Pulp Fiction had being 154.