Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 16 News List

Child's play isn't so much fun anymore

The fifth film in the series about a homicidal toy, Chucky, is filled with gore but fails to scare or amuse and basically shows its age

By Anita Gates  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Director of the film Seed of Chucky, Don Manchini, right, and Brad Dourif, left, who gives his voice to Chucky in the film, pose with Chucky and his girlfriend Tiffany.

PHOTO: EPA

Chucky the Killer Doll, like some other 1980's movie stars, has seen better days.

In Child's Play (1988), Chucky, a talking toy inhabited by the warped soul of a slain serial killer, was the picture of innocence. And he showed some restraint. When a baby sitter wouldn't let his little-boy owner stay up late to watch television, he threw her out the window.

These days Chucky's face is covered with stitches (had some work done, dear?), and he and his family are more into decapitating and disemboweling.

It's hard to keep all the murders straight in Seed of Chucky, the fifth film about this tiresome homicidal toy. There's the man in a Santa Claus suit in a cemetery, though that turns out to be part of a movie scene. And one couple's stabbings are part of a dream.

Others are real, however: the Hollywood special-effects man, whose headless body spews blood like a fountain; the limo driver (stabbed); the rapper (gutted); and the dedicated celebrity assistant (set on fire).

Don Mancini, who wrote and directed this idiocy, must hope that there are plenty of undemanding moviegoers out there.

Each Chucky film (the others are Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3 and Bride of Chucky) has had a different director, but Mancini has written them all.

Maybe the first picture was so clever because he had co-screenwriters, Tom Holland and John Lafia. All indications are that Mancini benefits from the collaborative process.

This time he set out alone to create a horror comedy with the premise that a Hollywood film is being made about Chucky's rampages. (See Scream 3, four years ago.)

This allows Jennifer Tilly, the voice of Tiffany, the title character in Bride of Chucky, to play herself, and she does her best. "I should have played Erin Brockovich," says the fictional Jennifer, who hates Julia Roberts. "I could have done it without the Wonderbra."

Film Notes

Written and directed by: Don Mancini

Starring: Jennifer Tilly (Herself/voice of Tiffany), Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky), Billy Boyd (voice of Glen / Glenda), Redman (Himself), Hannah Spearritt (Joan) and John Waters (Pete Peters)

Running time: 87 minutes

Taiwan Release: today


Jennifer's romantic interest is the rapper Redman, also playing himself. They meet because he is producing a movie about the Virgin Mary, and Jennifer believes she would be perfect for the part: "I always loved the way she wears robes and wore her hair off the face."

To persuade Redman to cast her, Jennifer invites him home to get to know her and her cleavage better. Meanwhile, an unattractive freckled doll in England sees the animatronic Chucky and Tiffany on television and realizes that they must be his parents.

The doll makes its way to Los Angeles and, upon finding Mom and Dad in a prop room, brings them back to life with a few magic words. They can't decide if their long-lost child is a boy or a girl, so they name it both Glen and Glenda. (I'm not convinced that a lot of slasher-film fans also know Ed Wood's transsexual camp classic.)

Some descriptions of Seed of Chucky have identified Glen as gay and suggested that the plot revolves around Chucky's reaction to that. He is praying that his boy will be a mass murderer like his old man but appalled that he might be homosexual.

Too bad that's not in the movie. Glen-Glenda puts on a wig and drag-queen makeup near the end, but it's more of a Michael Caine in Dressed to Kill thing. The plot actually concerns the dolls' plan to impregnate Jennifer with Chucky's sperm.

There is not a single scary moment in all of Seed of Chucky, so laughs are welcome. Chucky pretends that killing is "a hobby -- it helps us relax," but Tiffany knows it's an addiction and calls a 12-step program's hot line. She is urged to get to a meeting. "No, it's really not an option," she says. "It'd just freak people out."

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