Aubrey Plaza’s Chucky Reboot ‘Child’s Play’ Is Tired, Desperate and Preposterous

Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman in Child's Play.

Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman in Child’s Play. United Artists Releasing

This is the eighth time around the toy store for Chucky, the homicidal doll introduced in 1988. The idea ran dry years ago. Now, the only thing they can think of to make more money on the Child’s Play franchise is to turn it into a comedy. It isn’t scary. It isn’t funny. It’s just tired, desperate and preposterous. My advice to the delusional folks who keep trying in vain to make something scary out of material that is already dead on arrival: Get it right, or give up.

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This dog has been falsely advertised as the origins of how Chucky came to be, but since it is set in an age of smart phones, laser technology and electric cars, that cannot be true. It opens in a doll factory in Vietnam, of all places, where an abused and humiliated worker gets even with his obnoxious boss by removing the safety precautions from a doll called Buddi and shipping it to America.

(1/4 stars)
Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Written by: Tyler Burton Smith [screenplay], Don Mancini [characters]
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry
Running time: 90 mins.

The little monster ends up in the hands of a single mother named Karen (Aubrey Plaza) with a deaf son named Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Like everything else in the movie, the hearing-impaired invention comes to zero and is never used to further the plot along or place Andy in any particular jeopardy. (The only things noticeably impaired are the ossified direction by Lars Klevberg and the awkward, amateurish screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith.)

In no time at all, the doll named Buddi changes his name to Chucky and elects Andy to be his best friend, immediately and forever. First, the ugly toy with the twisted grin, deranged expression and cruel eyes that light up in the dark murders the family cat and severs the head of Karen’s sleepover boyfriend. But that’s before Chucky goes full throttle as an unstoppable psycho killer. Wait till you see what he does with an electric drill and a chainsaw.

Andy’s friends, none of whom think it’s sub-normal that he still plays with dolls, attempt to dispose of Chucky by tossing it down the incinerator, but the janitor finds it and restores its digital stuffing in time for all hell to break loose. Chucky grabs hammers, butcher knives and screwdrivers to dispose of everyone who has ever hurt his owner and playmate.

Nothing much more to describe here. While the movie gets sillier by the minute, Chucky himself is so boringly conceived that he’s never especially frightening or even vaguely unnerving. Instruments of torture multiply, corpses keep coming back for more, the voice of Chucky belongs to Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker, and the scenes designed to be the scariest are actually the funniest, especially when the inventors of Chucky bring out their newest novelty—a teddy bear that turns into a werewolf.

Aubrey Plaza’s Chucky Reboot ‘Child’s Play’ Is Tired, Desperate and Preposterous