Geek Review: Child’s Play

I’ve never actually seen a Child’s Play movie before, but I know roughly what the story is about.  A doll named Chuckie goes on a rampage, killing people who don’t quite suspect the doll is more than just a kid’s toy.  The series has a fairly successful and well-received first movie.  Subsequent movies got sillier and sillier as they went along.  You know, like a lot of 80s horror series.

Well, there’s a new Child’s Play out now.  Will we get more of a serial killer transferring his soul into a doll through a voodoo spell?

Um, no.  This Chuckie is something else entirely.

There’s nothing supernatural about this Chuckie.  He’s a Buddi doll with a few malfunctions.  Working single mom Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza)  grabbed him for her partially deaf son Andy (Gabriel Bateman).  While the suttering weirdness initially puts Andy off even as the doll names himself Chuckie, the doll (voiced by Mark Hamill) keeps trying to win his new owner over.  Andy changes his mind after a bit when he sees how Chuckie’s malfucntions can be a bit more fun for a kid his age than he thought.  Things get a bit worse from there.  Chuckie is both very literal-minded, highly possessive of Andy, and he doesn’t take rejection well.  It won’t be long before Chuckie’s lack of boundaries gets someone hurt or worse.

So, this Child’s Play is a very mixed bag, and not in a good way.  Setting aside that Chuckie is really in Uncanny Valley territory, the movie has definite tone issues.  Some sections seem to be some kind of social satire, looking at how much people are into their phones and online conveniences.  This Chuckie isn’t just a kid’s toy but also some kind of Alexa-type device that connects to all manner of other machines.  Then other scenes look like some kind of dark comedy.  I’m not sure how funny it was, but I did laugh out loud at the results of Chuckie’s first oncreen kill.  Then it comes out as a straight-up horror movie.  In that form, it isn’t that scary.

Quite frankly, if this is movie is a comedy of sorts, it doesn’t do very well there either.  Plaza has proven comedic chops, particularly of a deadpan nature, but she doesn’t really get any funny lines.  Brian Tyree Henry has some easygoing charm, but he doesn’t really have much funny to do either.  That’s all on the script.  As for Hamill, he’s fine.  His Chuckie is a distinct entity, different from his better known roles for the most part.   Sure, as he goes more homicidal, the voice does have a Joker-ish quality, but the rest is something new.  This movie only runs about 90 minutes, but aside from that comedic kill and Hamill’s performance, I can’t really recommend anything about it.  6.5 out of 10 creepy dolls that someone thought kids would actually want.

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