Alex Vincent - Andy Barclay
Christine Elise - Kyle
Brad Dourif - Voice of Chucky
Jenny Agutter - Joanne Simpson
Gerrit Graham - Phil Simpson
Grace Zabriskie - Grace Poole
Greg Germann - Mattson
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural/Toys
Running Time - 84 Minutes
In 1988, a new horror film franchise was created in the form of CHILD'S PLAY. The film, dealing with a serial killer who places his soul into the body of a talking doll [who in turn wants to place the soul into the body of an innocent little boy] was a box office and critical success. And just like when any other film makes a decent-sized profit, a sequel is always in the cards.
There were some issues when it came to 1990's CHILD'S PLAY 2 behind the scenes. One, Catherine Hicks, who had played Karen Barclay, and Chris Sarandon, who had played Detective Mike Norris, wouldn't be able to star in the film due to scheduling conflicts. This was more significant when it came to Sarandon, who was originally going to be the main character of the sequel, causing rewrites to get rid of the character. Also MGM, who owned the rights to CHILD'S PLAY, was bought by another company that wanted to take MGM in a more "family friendly" direction. This meant that the future of CHILD'S PLAY was in doubt. Luckily, Universal Studios was interested and decided to buy the brand [even though the first one would always be under the MGM label, thus ruining any chance of a full box set].
With Don Mancini [who co-wrote the first film], Alex Vincent, and Brad Dourif back on board, CHILD'S PLAY 2 was made and released in 1990. While not as successful as the first both critically and commercially, the sequel still made a nice profit and was even #1 at the box office for a week. And after 20 years [has it really been that long?], CHILD'S PLAY 2 is still an enjoyable sequel that won't change cinema, but will entertain audiences and prove that the Chucky character is worthy of his status as a modern horror icon.
Two years after the events of CHILD'S PLAY, the remains of the Chucky doll are back in the hands of Play Pals, Inc. After the accusations of both Karen Barclay and her son Andy (Alex Vincent) about Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif), the company wants to repair its reputation by reconstructing the doll. Unfortunately, an electrocution brings Chucky back to life, restarting his killing spree and his hunt for Andy.
Meanwhile, Andy is placed in the foster care system due to Karen being placed under psychiatric care due to collaborating with Andy's story about Chucky. He placed under the guardianship of skeptical Phil (Gerrit Graham) and compassionate Joanne (Jenny Agutter) Simpson. The Simpsons have another foster child named Kyle (Christine Elise), a tough teenage girl who takes a quick liking to Andy.
Andy, still traumatized by Chucky, freaks out when another Good Guy doll named Tommy was given to Andy as a gift from The Simpsons. Trying to get over his fear, Andy slowly befriends Tommy. Unfortunately, Chucky has located Andy and decides to get rid of Tommy and replace him. Andy soon begins to relive his nightmare, as Chucky murders anyone and everyone that could become an obstacle for him to place his soul in Andy's body before he turns completely human inside the doll's body.
CHILD'S PLAY worked as a horror film due to its level of mystery and attempts to be a gritty, scary film. However, CHILD'S PLAY 2 doesn't bother trying to be scary. Instead, it's more focused on humor and gore. It's your typical horror sequel - one that's not as memorable or as scary as the film before it. Still, CHILD'S PLAY 2 is a good sequel that happens to create pretty cool moments.
The story by Don Mancini does a good job in continuing on the events that occurred in the first film. Even though expository, we learn what happened to Andy's mother and why Andy is stuck in foster care. We also learn that Chucky can't enter another body but Andy's since Andy was the first person Chucky told his secret to. This solves a lot of issues concerning Chucky's obsession with Andy. I know a lot of people who keep asking, "Why is Chucky chasing after this kid? Couldn't he just possess some other poor fool and live his life through them?" At least this way, it keeps the cat-and-mouse chase tense and suspenseful because we know Chucky needs Andy and will take desperate measures to get what he wants.
Also, the script allows Chucky to take control of the film. Now that we know that the doll is the killer, there's no need to hide him from the audience. With Chucky now in the forefront, we're allowed to see his personality shine through more than it did in the original. And boy, what a fuckin' personality it is! With funny one-liners and a mouth that deserves to be washed out with soap, Chucky is a hoot to watch and listen to. I still think the line about women drivers is one of the funniest moments in this franchise. Chucky would become more of a comedian in the later sequels [for better or worse, depending on who you talk to], but CHILD'S PLAY 2 is the real beginning of Chucky's character fleshing out from killer doll to horror icon. And the humor here works well in the sequel since Chucky isn't scary anymore. I mean, who would be scared of a doll who could be defeated just by a swift kick to his big head? It was smart for Mancini to have the audience laugh with Chucky instead of at him.
Unfortunately, CHILD'S PLAY 2 does suffer from sequelitis. The characters aren't fleshed out as well as they should be. Andy gets a bit more development as we watch his struggle to escape the memory of Chucky. Kyle gets the most development out of the newer characters, as her tough exterior reveals a compassionate and caring human being underneath. Still, we don't really know what her story is except for what we see in the film. But she's developed enough for us to like her. Everyone else gets the shaft though. Especially The Simpsons [doh!], who come off as pretty one-dimensional. Phil is written more like an asshole than someone who is skeptical of taking troubled Andy in. And Joanne is more naive than loving. And there's a moment where it's implied that Joanne is unable to conceive her own children, but it's never pushed further than that. It's not a deep story, and while this doesn't hurt the film all that much, it still would have been nice to see some depth to the characters and their situations. It's here when you start rooting for Chucky to kill these characters. But then again, this is a slasher film and it pretty much follows the formula predictability. What more do you want?
The special effects by Kevin Yagher and Image Engineering Inc. are well done. Chucky is fully robotic, instead of having a short person dressed like Chucky running around. And Chucky looks really good, displaying personality through his movements and facial expressions. Yagher and crew did a good job bring Chucky to life and making him believable. The scene before Chucky teaches that nasty school teacher a lesson is still cool after all these years, from the way Chucky moves menacingly to how the voice syncs with his lip movements. A definite improvement over the first film. Chucky looks more convincing in this installment.
The direction by John Lafia is pretty good. The film moves at a quick pace and it's always entertaining. The opening sequence is well done, with the FRANKENSTEIN homage. Personally, I enjoy the final act of the film inside the Play Pals, Inc. factory that's reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING. It's the only time in the film where there's actual tension and suspense. I do think the film has way too many jump/fake scares, especially in the middle portion of the film, that aren't needed. But overall, CHILD'S PLAY 2 is a nice looking film and Lafia makes good work of the script to bring out more depth that the narrative lacks.
The acting in the film is decent. Alex Vincent doesn't get to emote as much as he did in the first as Andy. But his performance is more convincing this time around and I bought his fear of Chucky at the beginning of the film. Christine Elise is cool as Kyle, creating a tough and intelligent girl we can like and root for. What ever happened to her anyway? After this and her awesome time on Beverly Hills, 90210 back in the day, I thought she'd be bigger. Brad Dourif rocks it as usual as Chucky. He just brings the menace and funny out of Charles Lee Ray, even if he is a 2 foot tall doll. I'm so glad he's doing the voice for the CHILD'S PLAY remake. I can't hear anybody else in the role.
Everyone else was sort of bland though. Jenny Agutter, who I enjoy in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, is just dull as Joanne. I love her accent though. And Gerrit Graham just comes off as a douche who we want Chucky to murder in the most vicious of ways. Why anyone would let this man adopt any children is beyond my comprehension? What a dick!
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE BLAMING EVERYTHING ON THOSE GODDAMN WOMEN DRIVERS
- At the beginning of the film, we see Chucky being put back together limb by limb. Cher seems to get this procedure done every ten years to stay looking young. If you "Believe" she was au natural, then "I Got You..." a bridge to buy, "...Babe."
- Mattson was told to stick Chucky up his ass. Now I see why Chucky is a hit amongst women and gay men - he's taller lying down than standing up!
- The liquor store only took cash, not credit. After what happened to Mattson, plastic will kill any business, both commercial and personal.
- Andy was found tied and gagged on his bed by Kyle and his foster parents. Even though Chucky was the kinky bastard who did it, they think Andy is the ONE who FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.
- Andy's homework had the words, "Fuck You, Bitch!" on it, pissing off his teacher. The message wasn't for her. It was for the family dog before she ate his damn homework again!
- Chucky beat Andy's teacher with a ruler. I guess she couldn't handle a man carrying twelve inches...
- Phil broke his neck tripping on his basement stairs. Step by step/Oooh baby/That's really gotta hurt-urt-urt-urt...
- Kyle convinced an officer, after being pulled over, that Chucky was like those dolls that pee, instead he bleeds. At least she didn't tell him that Chucky ejaculates. While awkward, at least it could possibly save lots of lonely nights.
THE FINAL HOWL
While not as good as CHILD'S PLAY, CHILD'S PLAY 2 is still an enjoyable sequel and definitely the best sequel in the franchise. It's quick, it's funny, and it has some cool scenes and moments. If you're a fan of an evil, cussing doll doing messed up things to shallow people, then this film is for you. If you're looking for something suspenseful and creepy, stick with the first film. Just leave the brain at the door and enjoy CHILD'S PLAY 2 for what it is - a stupid, silly time showcasing a doll that has more personality than the actual humans in the film.
3 Howls Outta 4