Movie review: Child’s Play

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two half stars

R |

Director: Lars Klevberg

by Jason Koenigsberg

A few months ago there was a horror movie called The Prodigy that was very similar to the original Child’s Play (1988) only more serious and instead of the killer’s spirit being transported into a doll it is placed in a newborn baby. Well, I guess once again I got what I asked for because this Child’s Play remake is certainly funnier in a sick and twisted way. It makes me wish that this film went all out with the disturbing humor. The new Child’s Play is not scary or fun enough to recommend as a horror movie and it has some humor that made me laugh out loud when I least expected to but not enough to classify it as a dark comedy. So the final result is an uneven movie hence the two and a half star rating. 

Child’s Play opens up with a commercial for Kaslan, a fictitious tech company meant to resemble Google or Apple and they explain the new ‘Buddi’ doll that replaces the ‘Good Guy’ doll from the original. This new doll is revamped for the 21st century with apps that make him compatible with your phone, television and all the electronics in your house. Also instead of a criminal spouting out a voodoo spell to insert his soul into the doll this Chucky doll becomes evil in a slightly more realistic way. A disgruntled employee is laid off from his factory job in Vietnam and before he kills himself he sabotages a Buddi doll removing all of the safety features so that the doll can wreak havoc on the poor family and children that end up with it. The social commentary is there and is a bit heavy handed. Child’s Play tackles our societies over-reliance on technology in our daily lives and how that can harm our families, in this extreme case, harm them very violently.  It also gives attention to the working class since the single mother (Aubrey Plaza) has to work retail (Zed Mart, a riff on Walmart) and has trouble paying the bills and paying attention to her son, and is a cautionary tale about the harsh conditions in sweatshops. There are noble efforts in this Child’s Play but they do not add up to anything new, interesting, or scary. The worst part is that it is never fun. 

The only time this movie gets fun is with some sick and depraved humor. If you have the stomach for nastiness and gore, this Child’s Play has some surprisingly funny moments and that is the only element that really kept my attention. The performances are all serviceable, Mark Hamill is fine as the voice of Chucky but a lesser known voice actor probably could have done just as well. The plot is as expected and the satire is blatant. I just wish this film realized what it wanted to be and stuck with it. Some of the best horror movies realize that the scares do not work and they delve straight into parody. This Child’s Play is a missed opportunity and remained serious trying to preach the evils of too much technology, while also being scary and throwing in some laughs for those with unconventional humor. It is a mixed bag that is not worth a recommendation but not worth completely writing off either. 

Skip this Child’s Play but check out this commercial from the ’80s. The ‘My Buddy’ doll was compared to Chucky back then and now with the name ‘Buddi’ instead of ‘Good Guy’ maybe Playskool has a potential lawsuit on their hands.

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