Child’s Play – 2019

Director Lars Klevberg
Screenplay Tyler Burton Smith
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

The original Child’s Play is a testament to the skill of Brad Dourif. That his Chucky is so gleefully nuts reflects wholly on the fact that we can picture the maniacal Charles Lee Ray had transformed his soul into the doll through some kabuki voodoo. Everytime the doll did something screwy, we knew the force behind it and realized the stakes.

This time, we have a different, yet intriguing premise. What if Chucky was an Alexa type doll with all restrictions removed and a connection to the entire contents of the web? Doing so makes Chucky more of a void, personality wise, and that gap has to be filled with something.

Unfortunately, they caught Mark Hamill fresh of the disappointing realization his days as the Last Jedi were ending. As he’d become less leading man and more internet troll, he’d become more renown for his vocal work. For people who believed Luke Skywalker had skill beyond a lightsaber, maybe he still had something left. Who really wants to look at a man who never took care of himself when they can hear him tell people mean things without having to see his Hobbit form?

The live action cast of Child’s Play is actually pretty good. Plaza hits the right notes as a single mom who is desperate enough to settle for scraps, but loves her son as much as someone stuck working retail can. Brian Tyree Henry is great as a detective who is piecing things together, but maybe not quite fast enough. Gabriel Bateman is the kind of kid you don’t want to punch in the gut for being precocious.

The film has two problems. The premise, as good as it is, isn’t really fleshed out in a consistent or believable way. We’re never sure if he’s got the knowledge of the web behind him or how he actually became sentient enough to care about the friendship of a little boy.

This is exasperated by Hamill. I can only wonder how many of his energetic “ideas” have gone into making Chucky. Everytime the logic takes a dip, I can only imagine Hamill telling the filmmakers, “Trust me. This will work.”

This is likely a bias of the reviewer, but it is impossible to get beyond. The lack of consistency behind the story and character of Chucky just feels like a problem when the film makers lack the gravitas to tell their below average actor to stick to the script. What can one say when everything else works, acting wise? Hamill’s Chucky just sucks the fun out of the story.

This will be the last Child’s Play not played by Brad Dourif for me. Based on the Box Office compared to budget, they may squeeze a few more of this iteration out. The results with be diminishing.

(** out of *****)

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