Once or twice a year, I’ll take a stroll down the toy aisle. Since there’s currently a 90s renascence occurring, it never fails that I’ll see some new-fangled and generally smart tech-enhanced version of toy from my childhood. My reaction is usually the same regarding whatever this updated toy might be. My old codger side comes out as I shake my head thinking, “This was better when I was a kid.” Sadly, the new Child’s Play remake evokes the same reaction.
In this update of the 1988 slasher flick of the same name, the Buddi doll is the hottest toy on the block. This doll is high-tech, wi-fi enabled, piece of artificial intelligence that comes with an app. Thanks to her job at a toy store, single mom Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) manages to get her pre-teenaged son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman), a Buddi named Chucky (Mark Hamill). (Yes at such an age, the kid would, of course, be playing with a doll.) Unfortunately for Andy, Chucky has been badly-programmed and has homicidal tendencies!
From that plot synopsis, you can tell that the filmmakers are going at this remake from a different angle. That being one of the technologies gone bad, out of man’s control. Such is a good enough approach to take with a horror flick. Heck, I believe artificial intelligence could get to the point of being dangerous to humans. Call me a nut if you want, but I feel the world will end with one of four movies becoming a reality: Planet of the Apes (1968), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Blade Runner (1982) or The Terminator (1984). You guessed it, I’m not the biggest fan of tech advancing beyond a certain point; nor do I care for how much we as a society depend upon it. Therefore, Child’s Play’s new take piece of interconnected and malevolent artificial intelligence from an omnipresent corporation should be scary.
Well, the idea itself is scary; however, this film’s execution of its concept is anything but that. More to the point, this whole focus artificial intelligence gets in the way of Child’s Play (2019) being an actual Chucky movie. Frankly, Chucky is barely a character in this remake. Instead, this horror icon that folks either love or loathe has no personality. Chucky also lacks in the backstory department in this remake as well. Not that the filmmakers have made such qualities a necessity, considering that this new interpretation of a character is merely a soulless work of A.I. Thus, if you were expecting the incredible voice talents of Mark Hamill to bring anything new to the role, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s impossible for Hamill to do as he’s given nothing to work with here.
The same can, unfortunately, be said for the rest of the cast. Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry (in his role as Detective Mike Norris), in particular, are absolutely wasted in this flick. Their characters are nothing more than thinly-written stereotypes. As a result, these otherwise talented actors can’t bring anything to such bland material as the narrative does not leave any room for them to do so.
In the end, this remake made an interesting but ill-informed choice on how to put a new spin on the original 1988 picture. Alas, the filmmakers did nothing else right after that initial decision. Ultimately, it seems to me that they were much more interested in making their own movie. One which has exceptionally tenuous ties to the source material it claims to be remaking. (Which I suppose makes sense considering the original series’ creator, Don Mancini is entirely unaffiliated with it.) This new Child’s Play has some unique kills in it but is otherwise a boring picture that looks like a myriad of tech company ads from a visual standpoint. It’s possible that teenage audiences may enjoy this new take; but as a longtime Chucky fan, I absolutely despise the movie in review.
Child’s Play (2019) Is Now Playing!