Child’s Play (2019) Review

Child’s Play (2019)

Directed by Lars Klevberg

Based on Child’s Play by Don Mancini

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

Music by Bear McCreary

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Child’s Play follows a family that is terrorized by a high-tech doll that rejects its programming, becoming self-aware and murderous.

My Opinion:

What the hell? I, um, quite liked this? This goes against everything that I stand for! It’s silly & ridiculous and it’s yet another goddamn remake (or is it a reboot?!). Whatever – both piss me off. Come up with some original ideas, Hollywood!!! I think I was just in a really good mood when I saw this. Maybe the popcorn was really good that day? Maybe it was the fact that my expectations beforehand could NOT have been any lower? Maybe my hair was looking good? Well, whatever the reason, I had fun watching this. It’s stupid but it’s a nice return to the unapologetic Eighties slasher genre. Most horror movies take themselves too damn seriously nowadays.

I won’t bother comparing this to the original. I like the first few Child’s Play movies just fine but, let’s be honest, they’re not exactly great. I mean, they’re not A Nightmare On Elm Street or a classic slasher like that (THAT remake was atrocious and pissed me the hell off!). So I wasn’t all that bothered about this being remade and, as Chucky is now a high-tech terror and can connect to other electronics from the same company, the movie feels very different anyway so I just see them as entirely separate films. Plus, of course, they changed his look. He looks just as stupid as always, really. Again – I’m not precious about the original so the redesign didn’t bother me. And I of course love Mark Hamill so enjoyed having him as the new Chucky’s voice.

First of all, I’d say they made these characters fairly likeable for a slasher. Andy (Gabriel Bateman) was good and I liked the fact that he’s older than the original Andy (13, I think?). By the way, it’s explained why a 13-year-old boy has a “doll” (which is much more than just a doll now – it’s more of a gadget). His mother (Aubrey Plaza) is also fine, I guess, in her usual annoying way. Yes, it’s also quickly explained why she’s so damn young (she says something about a very eventful Sweet 16). See, movie writers? All you have to do to explain away something that seems a bit stupid is to add in some sort of line like that. Andy also makes a couple of friends his age who are decent characters as well as a likeable neighbor and his mother. So, as far as slashers go, they did a decent job with the characters for a change.

Chucky also has a fun personality in this. Weirdly, he’s kind of a lovable little fucker at first. Fans of the original may miss the much more twisted Chucky, though. I don’t want to give too much away but Chucky going bad in this one is completely different to the (admittedly lame) reason in the original. But it makes for quite a different and ALMOST sympathetic Chucky in this one. I maybe slightly prefer the full-on psycho Chucky of the original but prefer the silly but far LESS silly plot of the new one. I think making Chucky a gadget that can use other electronic devices to kill people in inventive ways was actually quite a good idea to bring Child’s Play up-to-date. One kill, involving some kind of gardening device, was especially wicked. (A tiller. I had to Google that as I know jack shit about gardening. And cooking. And any boring domestic shit like that.)

Child’s Play 2019 is a slasher film that stays very true to the Eightiesstyle slasher. You either like that genre or you don’t. I do as I grew up on it but it’s certainly not for everyone. If it’s not your thing, don’t bother with this movie. If it is, I think you’ll have fun with this remake. They seemed to have fun making it, which I think is important in this genre. Who wants a serious slasher?? I’m going to be way too generous with my rating because I’m feeling nice this week. It’s likely that I’ll lower it by the end of the year but, for now, I have to admit that I liked this movie.

My Rating: 7/10

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Exam, Paul Williams Still Alive & The To Do List Movie Reviews

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to those in the UK who won’t be reading this since you’re not at work pretending to work while actually reading blogs! Then I think you Americans have next Monday off? So, since no one will be around the next couple of weeks, I figured it was time to do a few more mini-reviews of movies that I didn’t give enough of a shit about to review when I watched them a year ago. Sounds like fun, right?! 😉 Here we go…

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Exam (2009)

Directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Starring: Adar Beck, Chris Carey, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chuk Iwuji, Luke Mably, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon

My Opinion:

Exam is the best of these three movies, which doesn’t say much for the other two. I’ll say that Exam had a brilliant concept and I did appreciate that. It started out pretty great but got too far-fetched & silly by the end, which was disappointing since it had a lot of potential. I’m feeling lazy today so I’ll let Wikipedia give you the set-up:

The film is set in present-time United Kingdom in an alternate history. Eight candidates dress for what appears to be an employment assessment exam; they enter a room and sit down at individual desks. Each desk contains a question paper with the word “candidate”, followed by a number, from one to eight. The Invigilator, a representative of the company named DATAPREV, explains that the exam is 80 minutes and consists of only one question, but there are three rules: they must not talk to the Invigilator or the armed guard at the door, spoil their paper, or leave the room. If they do, they will be disqualified.

That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? And it is – it’s why I watched this movie. And it gets even more interesting when the exam starts and the candidates discover the one question. The state of the world in this alternate history, which we learn a little about as the movie progresses, does help to explain the lengths that these eight candidates are willing to go to in order to get this job. But not quite… As to be expected, there are a couple of pricks who you’re meant to immediately dislike but none of the characters are very well developed and you don’t care enough about any of them to really care who will get the job at the end.

Had the characters been better instead of so one-dimensional and had the story been less far-fetched by the end, I’d have liked this one a lot more. I did really enjoy the mystery involved with the whole thing. It was fun seeing the candidates trying various ways to figure out what the hell was going on with the bizarre exam. In a world (shit, did I just use the “in a world” phrase?) where times are desperate, as in the story’s alternate history, you can almost believe that these candidates will do anything to get this very important job. However, the movie doesn’t manage to make us believe that “this could really happen”, which sucks as I think it could. Exam reminded me a lot of The Purge, which is another movie that I thought had a brilliant concept & so many ideas to be explored but never were. Like The Purge, Exam feels like a wasted opportunity (although I really liked The Purge and find myself always sticking up for it).

Don’t let my negativity discourage you if you like the sound of this movie. I think I may just be too picky in always expecting movies to have some deeper sort of meaning. If you don’t think about it too hard & are able to suspend disbelief, you may get some enjoyment out of Exam.

My Rating: 6/10

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Directed by Stephen Kessler

Starring: Well, mainly just Paul Williams, his wife, and the director but there’s plenty of old footage with famous celebrities to watch. 

My Opinion:

What a shitty documentary. Hell, I think I could make a better documentary. The trouble isn’t the subject as I think Paul Williams is fascinating enough to make for an interesting documentary. But god the director, Stephen Kessler, is annoying! This reminded me a bit of the John Hughes documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me (which I reviewed HERE). In both films, the makers almost feel more like stalkers than like proper filmmakers.

I’ll say that Paul Williams comes across a bit grumpy in the documentary but that’s probably understandable as the director pretty much spends the whole film talking about how Paul Williams used to be a pretty big star but now he’s nothing (which isn’t true at all, especially since Daft Punk soon after declared their love for him & worked with him on their amazing Random Access Memories album). It’s ridiculous as Paul Williams has had a longer and FAR more successful career than Kessler (his only other movie you’ll have heard of is the crappy National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation).

As for Paul Williams, I know some people here probably know nothing about him although you may recognize his face. He was (well, still is) mainly a singer-songwriter but also an actor whose most famous work was in the Seventies. He wrote songs for people such as Barbara Streisand (Evergreen) and The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun & Rainy Days And Mondays). Perhaps his most famous song, though, is The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie (it’s certainly my favorite & in my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs). He was also in Smokey And The Bandit and the spectacularly mad Brian De Palma film Phantom Of The Paradise, which I reviewed HERE. Williams plays an evil record executive in Phantom, which is a mental “horror musical” that I enjoyed so much that I decided to watch this documentary soon after. Bah! Rubbish. Watch Phantom instead.

It’s hard to know what to rate this as it IS worth checking out if you’re interested in Paul Williams and don’t know much about him. There are plenty of old clips with lots of famous celebrities & the film is almost worth watching for that alone. Don’t expect the most in-depth documentary ever, though, and be prepared to feel as annoyed by the director as Williams sometimes clearly is. I’m glad I watched it but would like to see a better documentary about Paul Williams.

My Rating: 6/10

(okay rating more for the fact that Williams is an interesting character than for the quality of the documentary)

The To Do List (2013)

Directed by Maggie Carey

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Andy Samberg, Scott Porter, Connie Britton

My Opinion:

How can a totally filthy sex comedy be so BORING and completely unfunny in any way? What a load of shit.

I’m thinking that maybe I truly don’t like Aubrey Plaza. I don’t have much experience with her (she’s in that Parks & Recreation thing, right? Never seen it). I didn’t mind her in the slightly pretentious Safety Not Guaranteed but then she mostly just got on my nerves in the disappointing Life After Beth. Well, I’d have to say I pretty much hated her in this. I don’t know if that’s entirely her fault, though, as I can’t say I liked anyone in this plus the movie is just plain bad. I honestly can’t think of a less funny “comedy” that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s almost as bad as a Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer “parody” movie.

(Just go play with yourself instead of watching this movie – you’ll have way more fun)

So, in this movie, perfect student Plaza decides she wants to lose her virginity & do every sexual thing that she can before heading off to college. Or something like that – I don’t remember much of this movie now. Anyway, here’s her sexual “to do” list:

I wouldn’t call myself a prude so my issues with the movie have nothing at all to do with the subject matter. I do enjoy the occasional sex comedy. But what I require is for them to actually be funny. I mean, WTF is this shit?:

Aubrey Plaza’s character is beyond annoying in this movie & I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do any of the things on that above “to do list” with her. The only funny thing, looking at that list, is how it says “British?” next to “teabagging“. lol. Okay – that’s kind of funny. But the rest of this movie is NOT. This movie can go do all of the above things to itself. Yeah… Go fuck yourself, movie!

My Rating: 3/10

Now here’s the rather epic, totally 70’s prog rock-y Touch, Paul Williams’ song with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories:

Life After Beth (2014) Review

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Life After Beth (2014)

Directed by Jeff Baena

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Dane DeHaan
Molly Shannon
Cheryl Hines
Paul Reiser
Matthew Gray Gubler
John C Reilly
Anna Kendrick

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

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My Opinion:

I can’t figure out how I feel about Aubrey Plaza. I’ve never seen Parks And Recreation. I first saw her in Safety Not Guaranteed, which I didn’t exactly love but I didn’t mind her. Then I saw her in a couple interviews and thought she was kind of weirdly funny. Then I watched that awful The To Do List and she just got on my nerves. This is my “horror month”, however, so I figured I’d check this movie out as I love a decent zombie movie (even though there are too many of them now).

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This movie had potential even though it’s too much of the same old “been there done that” when it comes to zombie comedy. The title is perfect and it makes you wonder if they came up with the title first then tried to write a movie around it. Some of this movie works but most of it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the weakest thing about the film is its two main characters (played by Aubrey Plaza & Dane DeHaan). I didn’t really like Plaza in this one – she played the role fine, I guess, but it possibly could have been a bit better with a different actress. That funny-looking Dane DeHaan was fine (sorry, Zoe – I think he’s a little funny-looking). 😉 I liked him most in Chronicle but it feels like he plays that same sort of role too much and his role in this one is somewhat similar in that he’s again a “troubled youth with issues”. Oh well – the role suits him. His main issue in this one is that he seems perfectly happy to have sex with a girl who has just returned from the dead and is very likely a zombie. Ew. The ROT…

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I understand the point this movie is trying to make about relationships and how we can sometimes stay in unhealthy ones because we find it hard to let go. It doesn’t work that well in the film, though, as I really didn’t care at all about the two main characters (especially poor Beth, who we don’t get to know at all in “life” – we only see her as a thoroughly unlikable zombie-girl made to represent the stereotypical “crazy bitch” girlfriend, which was almost a little sexist & insulting). It may have been better if we’d seen her as she was before her death. Maybe. I don’t know.

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What DOES work fairly well in this movie are all the lesser characters that provide the comic relief. Both sets of parents (John C Reilly & Molly Shannon as Plaza’s and Cheryl Hines & Paul Reiser as DeHaan’s) were pretty funny and I liked DeHaan’s asshole brother (Matthew Gray Gubler), who was a little bit like Bill Paxton in Weird Science. I wish these characters had had more screen time and that we’d had more of the overall story explained & happening all along (there’s a bit more to it than just “girlfriend comes back from the dead”) but, unfortunately, they chose to pretty much focus ONLY on the relationship between Plaza & DeHaan. This may have worked if their characters had been at all developed so that the audience cared one way or another what would happen to them. Without knowing what their relationship was like before the death, it just seemed a bit pointless.

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Summary:

Pretty pointless zombie-romance-comedy when there are plenty of better ones out there in this day & age of zombie movie obsessiveness. Just watch Zombieland or Shaun Of The Dead if you want a zombie comedy (or the movie I’ll be reviewing tomorrow) or Warm Bodies if you want this weird new genre of zombie romance. Those are good – Life After Beth is not. A waste of a good movie title.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) Review

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Mark Duplass
Jake Johnson
Karan Soni
Mary Lynn Rajskub

Running time: 86 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a disillusioned college graduate who interns at Seattle Magazine. One of the magazine’s writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), proposes to investigate a newspaper classified ad that reads:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

Jeff selects Darius and [intern] Arnau (Karan Soni) to assist him. They travel to the seaside community of Ocean View to find and profile the person behind the ad [Kenneth (Mark Duplass)].

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My Opinion:

This film got the third highest number of votes when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Everyone was very enthusiastic about this one and I didn’t know what to do as I hadn’t really planned on reviewing it at all. Not because I thought it was bad but, sometimes, I’m just not sure what to say about a film. But I keep my promises so here goes…

I’d been wanting to see this ever since first hearing about the plot. It’s a great idea and I always love that – too many movies are so unoriginal these days. I know it was inspired by a real (joke) classified ad and think it’s great they were able to write a script around this simple idea. I really didn’t know where they’d go with the story.

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I did think this was a good film and am glad I watched it but it was just missing *something* for me. Can’t quite put my finger on it. For one thing, from what I can gather, people seem to be big fans of some of the actors in this. That’s of course going to help people to enjoy a film. But I really didn’t (and still don’t) know anyone in Safety Not Guaranteed.

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Aubrey Plaza was the best thing about the film for me – I can sort of see why people would already like her from other things she’s been in. I know she’s in a show called Parks And Recreation. I’m not a TV person so this show means nothing to me. Mark Duplass also means nothing to me. Not sure what he’s most famous for but know he makes movies with his brother Jay. I’ve watched one, Cyrus, which I had a hard time finishing. I think he’s certainly an acquired taste. As for his character in Safety Not Guaranteed, I couldn’t connect with him. He was a little too odd, a little too indie-movie-quirky misunderstood weird guy? I don’t know… Just didn’t quite work for me and I couldn’t help but think that Aubrey Plaza’s Darius should run away from him as he seemed the type to have bodies hidden underneath his floorboards.

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As for the other characters, I ended up almost liking the story of Jeff (Jake Johnson) a bit more. His story is a little bit like that of Simon Pegg’s Gary King in The World’s End with the whole wanting to relive the past thing. Being my age I, unfortunately, am finding that I can relate to these sort of characters (way) too much. Arnau (Karan Soni) felt a little unnecessary – he seemed to mainly be there to help us understand and give more depth to the character of Jeff. I did think the two characters worked well together.

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Summary:

Safety Not Guaranteed takes a brilliantly simple story idea and gives us an intelligent script with some good complex characters. It ticks all the “indie” boxes but not in that annoying and needy way that some indie films do when they’re trying too hard. It’s a film that the casual cinema goer will probably hate (and may think is seriously going to be about time travel). As with many indie movies, it’s not for everyone. It’s about the characters and, if you can’t relate to at least one of them, you’re not going to enjoy the film. I did enjoy it but do wish I’d cared more for the character of Kenneth. It’s a film I think I should give another chance and re-watch sometime in the future. Anyone have a time machine? 😉

My Rating: 7/10

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