‘Child’s Play’ Review: A Robot Chucky Goes Rogue in a Soulless Remake
Remember Chucky, your friend to the end? In “Child’s Play” (1988), he was the Lakeshore Strangler, a serial killer who transferred his soul into a doll.
Nothing supernatural occurs in “Child’s Play” (2019), a soulless remake in every sense. The new Chucky is simply a robot, the handiwork of a disgruntled factory worker in Vietnam. The toy would normally be a devoted companion to Andy (Gabriel Bateman), who has just moved to a new home with his mother (Aubrey Plaza). But Chucky, whose safety protocols and violence-inhibiting features have been removed, becomes fiercely protective. If he can’t be Andy’s friend, nobody can.
In effect, the director Lars Klevberg has delivered a platonic rehash of “Fatal Attraction,” with a three-foot hunk of plastic in the Glenn Close role. Chucky gets his voice from Mark Hamill, a distinguished vocal actor when not on Jedi duties, which are presumably more fun.
This revamped Chucky has a sense of humor, of sorts. He learns his slashing skills from watching the second “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and spouts one-liners like “this is for Tupac” as he stabs. (That reference, like much of the movie, feels way out of date.)
But while we may need to fear the creeping presence of Alexa, Siri and self-driving cars, rogue artificial intelligence is easily explained — unlike, say, a possessed doll that frames a small boy for murder. Paradoxically, plausibility makes “Child’s Play” less scary. (Don Mancini, the series’ creator, has signaled that this movie wasn’t his idea.) In trying to build a smarter Chucky, the filmmakers have assembled something unfathomably dumb.
Rated R. Autonomous appliances. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.