If there is one fault that unfortunately the new Child’s Play suffers from more than any other it is actually its association with the franchise.
I think I can better illustrate my opinion by likening the genesis of the new Child’s Play to a Hollywood thinktank meeting where the following conversation took place:
Out of touch board member/ man in overpriced suit: We need something NEW! Something “edgy”!!!
Jaded Writer: Well, we’re out of ideas. We’re completely tapped. Hmmm… uh… well I do have that killer AI script that HBO passed on for Westworld. It umm… had the children’s toy that goes berserk.
Man in Suit: The doll movie?
Writer: Well, more of an interactive toy than a doll… but…sure.
Suit: Won’t people just say its another one of those killer doll movies.
Writer: Technically it’s an interactive toy… not even close to anything like the Chucky movies, but the studio has the rights to those anyways so I don’t see why it makes a difference.
Suit: Wait, we actually have the writes to those Charlie movies?
Writer: (sigh) Chucky. yes.
I will start the actual review portion of this review by saying that I liked the new Child’s Play movie/remake/reboot/whatever. I liked it a lot. I liked it because for all intents and purposes this is closer to a reimagining of Deadly Friend than Child’s Play and the update WORKS, like really, really well.
Gabriel Bateman plays Andy, a typical pre-teen who, after moving to a new apartment building with his mother has become withdrawn and is finding his new situation a difficult one to make friends. Andy’s mother (Aubrey Plaza) works retail and tries to live her life as normal as possible despite a broken family and a less than ideal relationship with her new boyfriend. When a Budi, the IT toy for that season gets returned with a minor glitch, Andy’t mom jumps at the opportunity, giving the toy to her son as an early birthday present. We see the origin behind the glitch and as abrupt and short as that opening scene is. it still makes sense. In fact as much as the new Child’s Play universe is built on insane bits of manic insanity, it still remarkably makes sense.
The relationship between Andy and Chucky gives itself a good chunk of screentime which proves effective and comes across as genuine. When the glitches with Chucky start to become more apparent there is a very real sadness to the development that I honestly was not expecting. This is where the strength of the script is most impactful. As part of the audience it is easy to initially sympathize with Chucky as his relationship with Andy changes. Even as Andy realizes that Chucky’s somewhat alien interpretation of friendship and loyalty is putting everyone he loves in harm’s way, there is a weight to Andy’s remorse that is admittedly heartbreaking.
Now, if this is beginning to sound more like an after-school special than a horror film let’s take a moment to switch gears. 2019’s Child’s Play is also fun and revels in its gorier moments. of which there are plenty. One particular scene involving the launch party of the Buddi 2.0 literally had me cackling in my seat, almost in disbelief that this was able to work its way into the theatrical release.
Ultimately Child’s Play succeeds being an entity so separate from its source (?) material that the resemblance is trivial at best. It has heart, humor and a narrative that unlike its titular character, just WORKS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.