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Why Now Is the Best (and Worst) Time to Remake ‘Child’s Play’

Child's Play remake Chucky

Our beloved ‘Friend til the end’

Chucky the killer Good Guys doll is having one helluva third act.

On the heels of two well-received VOD sequels, an announced television series, and the best cameo in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, the iconic Child’s Play villain has seen his stock rise among his 80s-era slasher movie counterparts.

Now, Chucky (a.k.a Charles Lee Ray) is getting the remake treatment, according to The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of Norwegian director Lars Klevberg.

The announcement surprises for a few reasons, not the least of which is the aforementioned television series conceived by series steward Don Mancini, whose name has appeared in the writing credits of every Child’s Play film and who has directed the last three sequels.

After seven films, there’s a case to be made that it’s time to reboot Child’s Play. However, an examination of how far Chucky has come shows an equally strong case for staying the course.

The Case for a Remake

In his first act, an era that spans 1988’s Child’s Play to 1991’s Child’s Play 3, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) had charisma but never enjoyed the success – in popularity and box office – of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees.

The character’s breakout moment finally arrived with 1998’s Bride of Chucky, which debuted a new scarred and stitched facial design for the doll, ditched his pursuit of former owner Andy Barclay, and paired him with Jennifer Tilly’s fan favorite Tiffany.

With its self-referential approach (a must in the era of Scream), Bride at last put Chucky in the conversation with Krueger, Voorhees, Halloween’s Michael Myers, and Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface – a quintet of modern slashers on par with Universal Studios’ monsters.

While each of those villains saw their respective series’ rebooted in the horror remake craze of the 2000s, Chucky’s comeback came in the form of another sequel, doubling down on meta commentary until the soufflé collapsed with 2005’s Seed of Chucky.

The second act was short-lived. Fans waited nine years for a new film, and while Curse of Chucky and 2017 sequel Cult of Chucky were both well-received, Chucky was now a straight-to-video villain.

Those same fans might be eager to see Chucky back on the big screen, with industry-changing advancements in CGI and motion capture that could bring a more realistic, more agile, and more frightening iteration of the doll to life.

At the same time, Klevberg may be inclined to continue the original film’s commentary on consumer culture.

The Chucky doll that debuted in 1988 was an obvious play on Hasbro’s My Buddy line of dolls, with Mancini and company also satirizing the Cabbage Patch craze years before Jingle All the Way.

A new Child’s Play could see Chucky enter a world in which kid culture has embraced smartphones over dolls, and the Good Guys franchise could be just another failed attempt to compete.

Chucky could find himself fighting not for the thrill of the kill, but for Andy’s love and attention!

Perhaps an introspective Chucky isn’t top of mind for Klevberg and screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith, but Child’s Play works best when the wit and satire is at its sharpest.

What better time for a remake than right now, with Chucky fresh off two acclaimed sequels and enjoying a peak in popularity he hasn’t experienced in 20 years?

The Case Against a Remake

Most arguments against a film’s remake include a reading of the popular “Why can’t Hollywood come up with original ideas?” monologue.

In the case of Chucky and Child’s Play, there’s a much better reason: The last two films are among the best in the series.

Mancini kicked off Chucky’s third act with Curse, which introduced a new protagonist in Fiona Dourif’s Nica and gave the character a personal connection (via retcon) to killer Charles Lee Ray.

Nica went on to appear in Cult, a film that [SPOILER ALERT] sees Chucky posses his new nemesis while being hunted by his old nemesis, Andy (played by original series star Alex Vincent). In the finale, the possessed Nica rides off into the sunset with Tilly’s Tiffany, with the promise that Andy and Child’s Play 2s Kyle (a returning Christine Elise) would be hot on their trail in the next adventure.

Despite being the sixth and seventh films in a franchise that had faded from the big screen to VOD, Curse and Cult are the most critically lauded entries, with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 83 percent and 82 percent, respectively. The next highest rated film in the series is the original Child’s Play, with 69 percent on the review aggregator.

Is it wise to reboot a series just when it’s getting good? Fans hoping to see the next film tie up its various plot threads will now be treated to an entirely new canon, possibly without Tiffany, Nica, Kyle, or even Andy.

And what of the television series? While Child’s Play hasn’t made it to air, genre fans can point to the well-regarded Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as an example of a show that deserved extended life rather than face abrupt cancelation in favor of a subpar theatrical film (in Chronicles case, 2009’s Terminator Salvation).

Fortunately, the fate of Mancini’s Child’s Play show hasn’t been determined, and it’s worth pointing out to worried fans that 2013’s Evil Dead reboot didn’t prevent that series’ original canon from continuing on the small screen with Ash vs. Evil Dead.

While there are arguments for and against a remake, at the end of the day, fans should rejoice that Chucky will live on in some form or another. Perhaps two versions will even grace our theater and television screens simultaneously, and eventually treat us to a “Chucky vs. Chucky” collision of both canons.

That would be a very Child’s Play thing to do.

The Now Playing Podcast Child’s Play Retrospective Series debuted in September 2010, and the reviews can be accessed via the show’s archives.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment