Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/21/19

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CREDIT: Pixar/YouTube

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Anna (Theatrically Nationwide) – Sasha Luss’ big break.
Child’s Play (Theatrically Nationwide) – Decent as far as remakes go.
Toy Story 4 (Theatrically Nationwide)
Wild Rose (Limited Theatrically)

TV
Legion Season 3 Premiere (June 24 on FX) – The final chapter begins.

Movie Review: The ‘Child’s Play’ Remake is Sharp with the Satire but Oversatured in Gore

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CREDIT: Eric Milner/Orion Pictures

Starring: Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza, Bryan Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, Marlon Kazadi, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio, David Lewis, Carlease Burke

Director: Lars Klevberg

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: R for Prime Bloody Cuts of Human Meat

Release Date: June 21, 2019

The original 1988 Child’s Play was a sneaky little B-horror pic that snuck in some pointed satire about the crass commercialism of marketing aimed at children by asking the question: if the soul of a serial killer were transferred to a toy doll, would all the adults be too distracted to notice? The remake takes its aim at the paranoia surrounding artificial intelligence. This is oft-explored territory, so the horrors of the next-gen Chucky doll (voiced with easy panache by Mark Hamill) are not particularly unique. But the satire is built around a salient, timely concern: what if all of our smart Internet-connected devices suddenly became weaponized against us? The new Chucky is part of the “Buddi” line assembled by Kaslin Industries, an Amazon-esque tech monolith that promises consumers a domestic utopia with its thorough suite of products, with Tim Matheson as the wise, old, just-creepy-enough face of the company.

While the ideas of nu-Child’s Play are impressively on target, its plot machinations are a bit too silly and Grand Guignol for their own good. Original flavor CP worked on a visceral level because while Chucky was nearly impossible to kill, he wasn’t impossible to subdue. But upgraded Chucky is far more omnipotent, as he can basically become telepathic and telekinetic with the right Bluetooth signal. Thus, it is never in doubt that he is going to kill someone, which leads to the hyper-violent stakes being raised in ways that call to mind Saw and Final Destination much more than I expected. Occasionally, there’s a really devastating sick visual joke to lighten up the gore, but most audiences can expect their bloodlust to be satisfied many times over. Ultimately, Chucky is defeated less because of any weakness and more just because the movie is about to end.

Also in the “been there, done that” category is Chucky’s motivation: the old “if I can’t be your friend, then nobody can.” Frankly, I think that Chucky has more on his mind than just what some random kid thinks of him. But that is what his programming demands once he meets young Andy (Gabriel Bateman) and automatically “imprints” on him. It suggests a worst-case scenario of how it would go if the most smartphone-obsessed among us had their feelings reciprocated. Smart A.I. can be dumb, but while this Child’s Play is satisfyingly diverting, it doesn’t convince me that our devices are that psychotic.

Child’s Play is Recommended If You Like: Smart device paranoia

Grade: 3 out of 5 Stabby Stabbies