Review: CHILD’S PLAY (2019)

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

At this point in my work in film criticism, I have to just shug and go with the flow when I hear about a new remake. I mean; honestly, what can I do? When Disney, the world’s biggest studio is producing mostly remakes and others are following suit, all I can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. With the case of the Child’s Play/Chucky franchise, I honestly don’t have any strong feelings about it all. I have always enjoyed the original film and a handful of its subsequent installments, but never felt any strong attachments with any of them. That said; I went into this new vision of Child’s Play with my usual positive attitude and no metaphorical chips on my shoulder. As it turns out, I actually enjoyed the new movie and accepted it for what it is–a subversive and delicious dish of dark humor/horror with a commentary on our obsession with cool technology.

In this version of Child’s Play, Kaslan Industries is the leading brand of “smart” devices intended to improve our lives. Their latest offering is a sweet natured and state-of-the-art doll intended as a high tech playmate for children. Kaslan’s “Buddi” has a phone app and can wirelessly connect with all of the Kaslan devices one should have in the home. Perhaps, this is just what young Andy (Gabriel Bateman) needs to cope with some awkward and difficult changes in his life.

On the verge of celebrating his birthday, Andy’s widowed mom Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) decides to acquire a Buddi doll to keep Andy entertained and adjust to the troubles in his life. The trouble is the new doll named Chucky (Mark Hamill) proves to be defective and actually begins to cause some serious problems for Andy and his mother.

With a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith (based on the original Child’s Play by Don Mamcini), director Lars Klevberg has actually made a wickedly and dementedly fun movie with this remake. Though a little absurd and on the nose at times, Klevberg has crafted a devishly clever new take on the Chucky franchise. What usually makes a remake good is when filmmakers opt to do something completely different from what has been done previously. Thankfully, that is the case with this film and I must say it is a fun ride.

The filmmakers and actors seem to have a delightfully winky sense of humor about it all and that’s what makes this movie all the more enjoyable. Casting talents such as Aubrey Plaza, Bruan Tyee Henry, Tim Matheson, and Mark Hamill all prove to be inspired choices. Casting all of these actors with their natural talents for humor and charisma works so well here. Mark Hamill, in particular, is the perfect choice for the new Chucky, as he skillfully embraces both the sweet and violent sides of the doll’s personality. I was also impressed with young Gabriel Bateman who shows exceptional range here.

And even though the new Child’s Play is not an extraordinary horror offering, it should make for some entertaining nights at home (or at the theater) for a group of friends seeking some subversive fun. Though the film tries to offer commentary on technology it is so difficult to take it all so seriously.

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