Quick Hit: This hi-tech reboot of the horror icon never quite hits the mark.
The original Child’s Play franchise, starring Brad Dourif as the titular Good Guy doll, was a fascinating series that grew in self-awareness the longer it progressed and the more sequels it laid out. When the decision was made to “reboot” the franchise, without Dourif and without the creator of the franchise Don Mancini involved (indeed, against his wishes), I was pretty against this film. I didn’t want to watch it… and then they cast Mark Hamill, perhaps known best for Star Wars. But the reason for this being an exciting cast had nothing to do with Yoda and Luke, and more to do with Mark’s stellar turn in Batman: The Animated Series and other titles as the Joker. Aubrey Plaza was also cast, and I’m normally a pretty big fan of hers, so I reluctantly rented the disc from a Redbox and popped it in.
Well readers, let’s just say I should normally listen to my gut.
This new entry loses a lot of what made the original franchise so cheesy and great. We start with the reason for Chucky being, well, Chucky. In the original franchise, there was a glorious amount of ridiculousness involving reincarnation of a voodoo follower who was also a murder – Charles Lee Ray. Here, we simply have a disgruntled worker in another country who kills himself shortly after the creation. While I can see the realism appeal in this, it also means that there really isn’t that much that is special about Chucky. He’s essentially just a really smart computer, and I have to say that Hal-9000 loses some of his steam when he’s dressed up as a doll.
Because the story takes its predictable turn, the doll ends up evil. I thought they did a decent job at characterizing the relationship between Chucky and “new” Andy. It actually had a bit of sweetness to the relationship, and it gave a different spin on Chucky having such a problem – essentially, we as humanity ruined him. And while it was nice to see the guy get his just desserts, a lot of the deaths were a bit too Saw-like for more taste. I’m absolutely for creative deaths, but the ones here felt a bit manufactured.
As suspected, Mark Hamill really seems like he’s having the time of his life playing Chucky. That’s not a bad thing – he frequently manages to bring some intelligence and wit to a role that largely had it written out due to a poor script. There’s also the fact that we get the cliché lonely kid and the cliché single mom, and other aspects (like the aforementioned reason for Chucky being, well, Chucky) that just seem like lazy storytelling.
In conclusion, I really missed some of the heart and humor that the original franchise brought to the screen. I miss the other characters and the way the series had built upon itself. This just seemed soulless comparably. I’m giving it a “D+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"