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CHILD'S PLAY
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CHILD'S PLAY 2
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Bride of ChuckyBRIDE OF CHUCKY - 1998
USA Release: October 16, 1998
Universal Studios
Rating: Australia: MA / France: -12 / Germany, Spain, UK: 18 / Hong Kong: IIB / Japan: R / Netherlands: 16 / Portugal: M16 / Singapore: PG / USA: R

Ever had one of those nights where you're flipping through the channels, looking for something to watch, and the only two things on are a movie that doesn't sound all that interesting and one of those really lame CBS comedies? I had one of those evenings recently, with a choice between BRIDE OF CHUCKY and The King of Queens. I chose Chucky . . . I should've gone with the fat guy from New York.

BRIDE OF CHUCKY is one of those films that make a true horror fan cringe. It's lame, full of bad jokes, filled with plot holes you could drive a truck through and no scares to be found. It's a shining example of the fact that Hollywood has absolutely no clue as to how to make a film that's actually frightening or even remotely original. It's a film made for Generation Y, a group of blockheaded kids who think SCREAM 2 is a shining example of cinema verite. It's a contemptuous piece of crap that's really not worth the time I'm about to spend trashing it, but if my words save even one person from wasting an hour and a half on this throwaway film, then it's time well spent. Never let it be said that I won't go above and beyond the call of duty for you guys.

In this, the fourth installment of the CHILD'S PLAY series, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif: TRAUMA, BODY PARTS, ALIEN RESURRECTION, DEATH MACHINE, LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers) is once again brought back from the dead - this time by ex-girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly: EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE, BOUND). Chucky refuses to marry Tiffany, who in turn locks him up in a cage. Chucky escapes, kills Tiffany, and transfers her soul into a female doll . . . just for kicks, apparently (that's what I'd do. See how SHE likes it! -feo). The duo then need to retrieve Chucky's real body (that of serial killer Charles Lee Ray) which has a some voodoo amulet around its neck that can allow them to both transfer their souls to real bodies.

TRIVIA
Child's Play has become so popular world wide that in some Central and South American countries, a "Chucky" refers to a small man who can be very dangerous when provoked.

*
For more on Brad Dourif, who's career began with the classic ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
in a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Award, and a
British Academy Award, go to the unofficial Brad Dourif site DOURIF.COM!

Of course, Chucky's put Tiffany into the doll, so she can't get him across country (you'd really think this guy would've considered that before putting her in the doll, eh?). Enter one Nick Stabile as Jesse, the hot young hunk who's in love with his girlfriend Jade (Katherine Heigl: UNDER SIEGE 2, BUG BUSTER). Jade's got a mean uncle for a guardian, played by John Ritter (IT, SLING BLADE), who's clearly only here in order to pick up a paycheck. Jesse agrees to transport the dolls cross-country, earning a nice chunk of change and an opportunity to take off with Jade. From there, the rest of the film plays out in a totally predictable fashion, with Chucky and Tiffany killing people, making wisecracks, and setting up a "twist" ending that's obvious from the film's beginning. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: Boooorrrriiiinngg.

What really makes this film a disappointment isn't the lame storyline (which was to be expected), nor the lack of any kind of original idea (again, to be expected), but the lack of style in the direction. The film was directed by Ronny Yu, the legendary auteur who gave us the incredible BRIDE WITH THE WHITE HAIR and countless other classic Hong Kong action and Kung Fu flicks. To be fair, Yu's been saddled with a lame script (written by Don Mancini, who's clearly only had one idea in his life, witnessed by the fact that his only other writing credits are for the first three banal entries in this series), poor actors, and a Hollywood studio that really only cares about appeasing the teenage demographic. But one would have hoped that Yu would infuse the film with some striking visuals, some interesting colors, anything to make the film at least slightly more appealing. That's not the case, though, as Yu offers up little more than the paint-by-the-numbers style of countless other hacks directing in the genre.

As mentioned above, the performances are terrible. Tilly apes her way through the film, showing that she's little more than a poor man's version of Joey Lauren Adams. Heigl and Stabile are both more wooden than your average log cabin, apparently believing they have to do little more than stand around and look pretty in order to turn in a good performance. Alexis Arquette (CHILDREN OF THE CORN V) plays a stereotypical Goth, demonstrating that the Baldwins have some stiff competition from the Arquette's for the title of "least talented family in Hollywood". Ritter and Kathy Najimy (as a hotel maid) are both slumming, and ought to be embarrassed that this film will now and forever be on their resumes (how embarrassed can you be after Three's Company and Sister Act 2? -feo).

The writing is bland and uninspired, with the only remotely cute or funny part occurring during the opening credits. In that segment, a cop goes into the evidence room to grab the Chucky doll. On the way, the camera shows us other evidence . . . notably a hockey mask, a Michael Myers mask, and a glove with knives for fingers. That's hardly anything earth shatteringly amusing, but it's the best this film manages.

Writer Mancini has tried to take the series in a new direction here. There's no mention of the earlier films, or Andy Barclay, the kid terrorized by the Good Guys doll in the first three parts. He's clearly come to the conclusion that the rest of us reached after the first film . . . that there's nothing all that scary about a killer doll. This time out, he plays the whole thing for laughs, with equally disastrous results. The wisecracking banter between Chucky and Tiffany is predictable, the Goth is hopelessly clichéd, and everything else is either obvious or appeals only to the lowest common denominator. Not to mention, someone needs to let Mancini know that jokes about Martha Stewart aren't all that funny . . . especially when they keep occurring throughout the film.

In the end, BRIDE OF CHUCKY is a bad movie. Anyone over the age of 15 will realize this, and those under 15 will probably reach the same conclusion once they come of age. It's a movie that exemplifies everything that's wrong with Hollywood's attempts at horror in this post-Scream era. Laughs are more important than scares, killers should be wisecracking anti-heroes more appealing than the humans they turn into spam, and all stories should have countless uninspired, formulaic sequels instead of striving to tell new stories. See this movie if you must, but remember, you've been warned. BRIDE OF CHUCKY gets 1 shriek girl from me.

Shriek Girls
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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