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« Emmy FYC: Eliza Scanlen in "Sharp Objects" | Main | Smackdown '01: Connelly, Tomei, Winslet, and the Dames »
Friday
Jun212019

One Two Chucky's Coming For You

by Jason Adams

If you squint in the opening moments of the latest Child's Play film -- which supposes a restart, a return to the beginning, an origin story -- it might remind you of Paul Verhoeven's Robocop, another 80s property that recently got the reboot treatment, sans soul. The soul gone missing this time around though is actually a literal one (or as literal as "souls" get anyway), as Chucky's not-so-humble beginnings have been rethought. He's no longer a regular doll that got the soul of a psycho voodoo'd into him, but one whose ultra modern computer tech gets maliciously-virused by a disgruntled employee at a slave labor camp buried somewhere in the deep dark recesses of Somewhere Vietnam...

But seconds before we make it to those jungles via a chuckle-inducing smash cut  -- there will be a lot of those -- the film opens up with a Verhoevian advertisement for the Buddi Doll, which overlays the gee-whiz presentation of an Apple Watch onto the scary-faced little hobbit frame which the kiddies of this weird world apparently all know and love and desire. He's a Teddy Ruxpin for the 21st century, one who'll remember your science book and adjust your room thermometer and order you an Uber all at the same time.

Skirting past the original Chucky's origin story is probably wise, given its race connotations, but the new film does in spurts and fits seem to have race on its mind, which is smart given that the base story for the Child's Play series has always been that of a Lonely White Boy whom everybody thinks has gone cuckoo for cocoa nibs and started a murder rampage. The film doesn't push this as far as it should, given the world we live in of all that as a daily occurrence, but it's there if you, like with the opening scene's satire, squint some more. Basically what I'm saying is if you squint a lot there's a lot to see in the movie's fuzzy mayhem. 

That said the crew behind this here latest iteration seem to've mostly had whittling the goofball airs that'd permeated the most recent Bride & Seed iterations of this franchise down to a malignant core --  the killer doll tale as old as time. And as such Child's Play 2019 turns out to actually be pretty fun and hella nasty, aka the exact right synonyms I went into it hoping for. It kind of loses its bearings in its last act as it tries on a thousand different shiny outfits -- there's a Barbie's Dreamhouse worth of rooms they go running full-speed through -- but getting there is actually, and I can't believe I am about to write this in this review for this movie, kind of moving?

The 1980s horror franchises that we fell in love with, the Jasons and Freddys and yes the Chuckys, were really always led by those killer characters -- the normal humans came and (violently) went but we were there to walk in the slasher's shoes; to get some fictional relief from the assholes of the world by living out our dark impulse fantasies. This here Child's Play really goes the extra mile -- sympathy for the devil isn't anything fresh but watching the world twist Chucky up, turn him bad and spit him out, it's really weirdly genuinely affecting at times. For the first time of all these times I actually would've loved to have been this Chucky's friend, friend to the end. Or almost the end anyway. I might've stopped before the stabbing.

Grade: B-

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Reader Comments (5)

I felt sorry for Chucky rather than scared,I liked the voice Hamill used and Plaza was excellent.

June 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Well, the real reason why they skirted around the origin is that the company doing this had the rights to the name, AND the original franchise is still producing stuff (DTV and TV stuff, but stuff), so best not to remind people of those. As for the racial politics of the original origin, though? The racial politics implications of a villain being something and a hero being something are wildly different. You're basically saying Chucky is comparable to Iron Fist, and...no. Just by virtue of being the villain, Chucky is not like, say, Iron Fist. He will never be like Iron Fist.

June 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Chucky in that top photo looks as if Naomi Watts was playing Julianne Moore.

June 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

Morgan the 1st that is the funniest thing i've heard all week.

June 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Child's Play only claim to fame in the modern era is being featured in a Nicki Minaj verse.

June 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

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