Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by: John Lafia
Written by: Don Mancini
Starring: Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Christine Elise, Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Haskell & Beth Grant
Two years after the original CHILD’S PLAY made waves at the box office and amongst audiences, CHILD’S PLAY 2 was released and greeted with similar success. Of course, the critical response to this sequel wasn’t nearly as positive as the first film’s warm reception, but this is the point where the series started to play with intentional humor and more creative kills. Even though it’s a slight step beneath the first CHILD’S PLAY, CHILD’S PLAY 2 is an enjoyable time for fans of Chucky and slasher fare.
Set two years after the previous film’s events, this sequel follows Andy Barclay (played once again by Alex Vincent) as he’s adopted into a foster home by temperamental dad Phil (Gerrit Graham) and caring mom Joanne (Jenny Agutter). By the side of his foster teenage foster-sister Kyle (Christine Elise), Andy begins to adjust to his new living situation. However, things look grim when the Good Guy company restores Andy Barclay’s Chucky doll (voiced by Brad Dourif) in order to combat the negative press from the murderous incidents. As a result, Chucky’s back and ready to hide his soul in Andy’s body…killing anyone who gets in his way.
Though his acting abilities were shaky in 1988, CHILD’S PLAY 2 sees Alex Vincent putting in a better performance and serving as a much more likable protagonist this time around. Vincent’s Andy is already in a difficult situation, being placed in the foster care program and his off-screen mother being thrown into a nuthouse (never to be seen again in this series). Sympathy is automatically gained from that scenario alone, but Vincent is convincing in the role. Also, Brad Dourif is clearly having a blast as the voice of Chucky. Dourif’s pint-sized plastic serial killer injects jokes and cheesy one-liners into this second outing. The best of these light-hearted, dark-humored bits has Chucky sarcastically remarking to Andy: “Move your ass, it’s like you’ve never seen a dead body before.” I admittedly busted out laughing because that was a genuinely clever piece of writing.
In CHILD’S PLAY 2’s catalog of supporting characters, there’s only one performance worth mentioning and that’s Christine Elise as teenage Kyle. It’s a pity that the future films never bothered to include Elise’s character because she shows believable chemistry with Andy as a surrogate sibling and caring friend. The rest of the characters are simply lambs to the slaughter. There’s the arrogant foster dad, the sensitive foster mom, the snobby elementary school teacher, the business-driven company underling, etc. These people aren’t full-fledged characters and were written purely to fuel the body count.
CHILD’S PLAY 2 drastically improves upon its predecessor in the kill department, which range from creative to darkly funny to flat-out ridiculous. One thing’s for sure, this sequel’s deaths are never boring. The best of these scenes easily comes from a final showdown at the Good Guys factory, which also lends surprisingly palpable suspense as Andy and Kyle try to escape from a labyrinthine maze of doll boxes. The dumbest kill comes from a death that’s pretty stupid (even by slasher standards) that involves a ruler being used as a murder weapon. This entire scene is laughable for all the wrong reasons and arguably one of the weakest kills of the series, yet this clip was used as a highlight for Chucky on BOOGEYMEN (a 2001 DVD release that was filled with clips of big slasher flicks).
The animatronics on Chucky are pretty impressive if nothing else and I couldn’t tell where a little person was in his place (something that cannot be said about the 1988 film). With all of its positives, there are spots of CHILD’S PLAY 2 that drag as the viewer simply waits for point A to get to predictable point B and onward. The script doesn’t exactly have many surprises up its sleeve and is a straightforward slasher sequel, but there’s still fun to be had in that. This is a satisfying second installment in a slasher series that’s remained pretty consistent in its nearly three decades of existence (always fun, but never great). If you were a fan of the first film and enjoy goofy slasher flicks, then you’re bound to find enjoyment in CHILD’S PLAY 2.