Toys Are Not For Children (1972)

The movie opens on a dark bedroom. There’s some hot and heavy breathing. Already, I am interested. A girl is in bed. She’s naked. She’s moaning, “Daddy . . . Daddy . . . Oh Daddy. . . .” Now, I am more interested. She’s writhing sensually on top of the sheets, her bare legs moving up and down while she is in a lover’s embrace with . . . a doll. This is now easily the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen, with the exception of that Planet Earth episode about the deep sea. Dumbo octopus. Google that shit.

The girl’s mother walks in on her and gets uptight. She is disgusted. She calls this dry-humping “unnatural.” And while she is technically correct, the mother could be a little nicer about it. She is not what one would call a “supportive” mother. She is what one would call “a raging, cantankerous bitch who spews acid hate.”

Within the first five minutes of Toys are Not for Children I realized it was going to be awesome. But the level of awesome it achieved came as a surprise. And I’m talking a good surprise, and not like a $250-bill-from-your-doctor-for-a-five-minute-phone-call surprise.

Jamie Godard (I know, right?) works at a toy store. She’s an innocent, wide-eyed girl. She is twenty and still plays with toys. She loves them and according to the store manager, has a real emotional connection with them. At home, Jamie’s bedroom is filled with dolls and stuffed animals from her father. Even though he walked out of her life many, many years ago, he still sends her a doll for every occasion. So now we understand that maybe – just maybe – Jamie has Daddy issues. But, she also has Mommy issues that give her Daddy issues. Jamie’s mother decrees that men are evil. “They’re no good! They’ll hurt you!” As a result, Jamie lives in fear of penises.

Jamie and Charlie get married. It’s their wedding night! Time to consummate! But Jamie can’t even undress in front of her new husband! There are flashbacks to her mother warning about men and their fuck-hungry cocks and flashbacks to her as a little girl playing with her father. Jamie is paralyzed with fear. Her vagina shuts down. She is unable to give up her V card. She starts to cry. Tears are the ultimate boner killer. But, Charlie understands. “Everyone’s afraid of their first time.” He seems like a kind and loving man.

Oh, but is he?

Fast-forward in time a bit and we see Charlie at a disco, hitting the sauce and hitting on the ladies. “I’m 23, I need women! I need to get laid!” These are all facts. Jamie has essentially frozen his dick out so Charlie must look elsewhere. Meanwhile Jamie looks for her father. She meets Pearl, someone who was “one of his women.” This is a roundabout way of saying that Pearl is a whore. As in, she gets paid to have sex. With people. People like Jamie’s dad. Jamie is fascinated. Eventually she gives up her V to Pearl’s pimp. And from here the movie slowly grows and devolves into a delightfully twisted pseudo-psycho-sexual drama.

The movie makes large leaps in logic and proves that narrative devices like character development and motivation are unnecessary for a good time. Every plot point that emerges warrants a “Whhaatt?” and a “Really?” and an “Oh shit!” There are frantic zoom-ins of mouths, a blouse that matches the wallpaper, and choice lines like, “I earn every dollar I make, twice” or “Turning tricks means making love to a john.” But everything is presented beautifully and thoughtfully — flashbacks are expertly and artfully cut in with dialogue. We hear and see Jamie’s father as she faces carnal desires. Scenes skip around in time, tingeing the entire movie with a dissociative air.

I love how Toys Are Not For Children slowly unfolds, each scene more pleasantly ridiculous than the last. It’s a slow burn that makes plenty of random turns until its glorious, perverted conclusion. Even Jamie’s outfits become more outlandish and revealing. The dress she wears to meet her father is something you’d get at a store called The Cherryboxxx. This movie has a lot to say: Sex is bad. Sex is joyless. Whoring is not for the innocent, nor is lezzing out. Broken marriages cause broken people and frigid vaginas. If you can’t keep it in the pants, keep it in the family. When you unleash the power of vagina, you must get a short and sassy haircut. If you come across a couple having urgent sex in the woods, go home to your mother and cry. All of this is set to a score of pop synths and baroque harpsichords and a backdrop of intensely awful paintings. My favorite is a lady sipping tea in a café. She is nude. This painting is not small.

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