Friday, March 27, 2009

Child’s Play

The best horror movies contain a certain amount of logic. They’ll ask you to swallow a single premise, either large or small, and then do their very best to play within the rules laid down in the early scenes.

Consider the movie “Halloween.” Taken by itself, the Michael under the mask is just a person. A person who can, perhaps, take a punch or a bullet better than the average human, but still flesh and blood.

One could argue that the final scene of Halloween says he’s something more than that, but, well, I’ll come back to that. Someday.

Because right now we’re talking about “Child’s Play,” a movie that starts with a pretty ridiculous idea and then keeps piling on the strangeness until the movie turns into a fairly stressful game of mental Jenga if you want to take it all seriously.

Let’s start with the opening scene. Charles Lee Ray, serial killer, is running down the street, gun in hand, trying to escape a police officer. They’re trading gunfire in the middle of a deserted street in Chicago, which I’m sure happens all the time.

Charles is hit, and then he runs inside a toy store and, sensing that he’s about to die, pulls a Good Guy doll out of it’s package, yells a bunch of words in a foreign language (except for “Give me the power I beg of youuuu!”) and then does the doll-eye stare.

Only of course he doesn’t die, or this would be the end of some other movie, as opposed to be the beginning of this one.

Is it worth mentioning, by the way, that there’s a Good Guys toy gun? That struck me as odd. I guess it’s in case the Good Guys need to shoot up some Bad Guys.

At any rate…

Next we meet Andy, who is a Good Guys fanatic, and has all the gear. Or most of the gear, anyway. It appears that Good Guys are actually based on a cartoon, as we see a clip of the cartoon that Andy is watching.

Andy notes that the cartoon is a rerun. Which is strange, because the cartoon looks just like an ad. Which I guess it is, because after the ad comes a notice that Good Guy dolls are now available for purchase.

Something I would have thought Andy would know already.

This is terribly exciting for Andy, as it’s his birthday, and he sees a Good Guy-sized box currently wrapped up and waiting for him.

So he goes and wakes up his mom with breakfast in bed, and then opens his gifts and discovers the big box is actually clothes. At which point his mother apologizes for not getting him the doll, because it wasn’t in the budget.

Way to go, mom. You should always apologize to your children when you can’t afford extravagant presents.

There’s a strange hole in the movie that probably deserves mention here: Andy’s dad is clearly not in the picture, and the only explanation we get is one line later on that implies dad is “in heaven.” And I guess he must have left a massive life insurance policy because mom works at a jewelry counter, and can afford day care, living in Chicago, and having a really nice-sized apartment…

Mom heads to work, and Andy goes to school. Mom’s best buddy, Maggie, runs into Andy’s mom and notes that a homeless guy outside has a Good Guy doll for sale.

Here we start getting into logical flaws pretty heavily. Clearly the homeless guy took the doll from the store. Which means he took an unboxed doll, put in back in the box, and dragged it out of there.

Why not taken any one of the several dolls still in the box? Or did he take all of them, and stuff this one back in the box while he was at it? How much money has this homeless guy made today?

So many unanswered questions.

Andy’s mom is told she has to work overtime, and Maggie offers to baby-sit. This allows mom to live a little longer.

Mom presents the doll to Andy, Maggie takes over for the night, and all is happiness and light until nine o’clock hits, and we discover via the television that Charles Lee Ray’s partner has escaped from prison.

Which implies the Chicago police are fairly inept. Again.

Andy tells Maggie that “Chucky” wants to watch the news, and Maggie, who has never seen a horror movie before, figures that Andy just wants to stay up late, and not that his doll has been taken over by a psychotic killer.

She’s still not convinced when Andy heads into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and she discovers that someone has turned on the TV and that the doll is watching it. She accuses Andy, Andy is put to bed, and…

Well, things end badly for Maggie.

She hears noises, and she figures Andy is running around, moving chairs and trying to get out the front door, and then she takes a hammer to the head and falls out a window, falling several stories to her death.

The cops, of course, figure Andy tried to kill Maggie. But they don’t take him in for questioning. Man, the cops in this movie really take it in the pants, huh?

The next day, Chucky has Andy take him to some run-down house in the middle of nowhere, and Chucky kills off his partner.

Why would a serial killer even have a partner? What does the partner do? It’s implied that he sits in the vehicle, waits for the serial killer to come back, and then they make their escape.

Only… how does that work? “Okay, Eddie. I’m going to go find a homeless guy and choke him to death. You sit here reading ‘People Magazine,’ and I’ll be back in a few hours. Don’t forget to feed the meter…”

Andy is caught near the scene of the crime and he sticks to his story, wherein Chucky blowed up the house real good. Everyone thinks he’s crazy, except his mother. Or maybe his mother does think he’s crazy. She doesn’t say.

Instead, she goes home and checks to see if Chucky has any batteries in him, and comes up with a negative on that. She threatens to throw Chucky into the fire, only he wakes up, freaks out, tries to kill her, and then runs away.

Then he attacks the cop who’s been investigating the case. Because by coincidence he’s the same guy who shot him back when he was a bit more fleshy.

A thrilling car ride ensues, wherein Chucky attempts to stab the cop in the bottom. The cop crashes his car, there’s some running around, Chucky is shot, and starts bleeding.

This makes him unhappy, so he goes to visit an old friend. At which point, we finally get the big exposition scene, and learn that Charles shoved himself into a doll using voodoo. And also, that if he doesn’t get out of the doll soon, it will become his permanent body. And also, that if he wants to be human again, he has to take over the body of the first person he revealed himself to. Which is, of course, Andy.

At which point, Chucky opts to do some damage to the voodoo priest using a voodoo doll.

Which begs the question – why not just make voodoo dolls of everyone else he wants dead? Does he just enjoy doing hands-on work that much?

The cop and the mom, thanks to some investigating, discover the voodoo priest and ask him, just before he dies, how to kill Chucky. They are instructed that he’s “human” enough now that they should shoot him in the heart.

They think this is a great idea. Because it makes a lot more sense to shoot a doll in its so-called heart, instead of, say, gathering a SWAT team together and sticking the doll in a cage.

Doll or not, Chucky is still human. Sort of. But I guess if you’re under two feet tall, it’s open season.

At this point, everyone heads to Andy’s apartment for the big finale, where Chucky is set on fire, has his limbs shot off, and is at last shot in the heart.

Chucky, it should be noted, is not shot in the heart by Andy, Andy’s mom, or by the cop. Instead, the cop’s partner, who has appeared periodically throughout the movie, shows up to do the final slaughtering of the world’s only serial killer with kung-fu grip.

Naturally, everyone is going to have some serious explaining to do. But the movie ends at this point, because the killer is dead, and everything is going to be okay, because there will never be a part two where people will have to explain what happened.

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