Child’s Play

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I hate when a reboot uses the exact same name. Pet Sematary did that recently, as did Halloween. Is this a thing with horror films? Well, I brought my friend that loves horror movies, and she pointed out that she loves cats and I hate them, and this is the second movie in a row she’s seen with me where a cat is killed (oh, spoiler alert).

Of course, she liked this movie. I enjoyed the first half, as the humor often landed and they did a great job establishing characters. The second half, not so much, especially the utterly ridiculous 3rd act, which was just gory and silly. If I were 12, it would’ve been the best bloodbath ever.

So, if your kids would rather play with nice dolls, you’ll probably take them to see the latest Toy Story. Take your teenage boys to see the latest Child’s Play.

I never saw the original Child’s Play, because I was one year out of high school, and the idea of watching a doll kill people didn’t seem that enticing. Although I must admit, it was a lot of fun in that old Twilight Zone episode from the early ‘60s. It wasn’t until a decade after that movie, when I was talking about my all-time favorite movies with another film lover. I brought up One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and that made me wonder what ever happened to actor Brad Dourif, who made his debut as the stuttering Billy Bibbit. I looked him up and saw that he had done the voice of. A slightly bigger named actor voices killer doll Chucky this time — Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker). He’s not a stranger to voice-over work. One of the many things he did was Batman: The Animated Series, and he voiced the puppets in the criminally underseen 2017 movie Brigsby Bear.

The film starts with a commercial for a toy company’s Buddi doll. It was wonderful to see Tim Matheson (Animal House) as that untrustworthy CEO talking about their new product. We then quickly move to a factory in Vietnam that makes the dolls. A disgruntled employee tinkers with one doll before killing himself (oh, spoiler alert #2). That means his spirit goes into the doll, I suppose. That doll gets returned to the Zed Mart store, where the very bored employee (Aubrey Plaza) decides to take the doll home for her child. Plaza is the second actress recently who doesn’t seem suited to the caring mother role but surprised me by playing it well. (Juliette Lewis in Ma is the second).

It’s always nice when an update brings technology into the film well. Pet Sematary gave us a great ending with a car alarm being disengaged (no “spoiler alert” necessary, as that movie is already gone from the theatres). In this, the Buddi doll can tap into other electronic devices (cell phones,TV, etc.) that this big company makes. Although, as cool as that idea is, the whole allegory about technology and the social commentary was a bit annoying. Just scare us, don’t lecture us.

The boy Andy (Gabriel Bateman, who has done a few horror films) wears a hearing aid, and seems a bit bothered by his single mom’s recent move. He spends a lot of time on his iphone and not making many new friends. Well, Buddi quickly becomes his best friend, and hijinks ensue!

Surprisingly, Andy does make a few friends. They reminded me of the couple of friends in Mean Girls, or characters from Stranger Things.

As Chucky (who was initially given a name that elicits laughs from the audience) starts to show his loyalty by…hurting the people that have hurt Andy (did I mention the cat?)…it’s a bit of fun. Chucky even starts to scare the mean boyfriend of Andy’s mom — which made me think of Thoroughbreds (another criminally underseen movie of 2017). 

Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk, Into the Spider-Verse) plays a police detective and neighbor. His character works well.

Surprisingly, a lot of the humor worked (there’s a Tupac joke that’s brilliant). The whole thing had an ‘80s horror vibe, and my friend that likes horror movies enjoyed it. It’s getting positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The 3rd act just ruined it for me, but I was never bored watching it.

The score was kind of interesting, sounding like it was done with kid toy keyboards and xylophones. 

It also has a barf scene, upping the amount of movies with vomit to 74%. Oh, and if you thought James Bond having a laser going towards his crotch in Goldfinger was scary…there’s a scene in this involving a circular saw. Ouch!

2 stars out of 5.




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