Film Review: CHILD’S PLAY (USA 2019) ***1/2

Child's Play Poster

A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.


Lars Klevberg


Tyler Burton Smith (screenplay by), Don Mancini (based on characters created by)

After a number of sequels, the original 1988 horror classic CHILD’S PLAY gets a reboot with the same title following a high tech doll that rejects its programming and becomes self aware. 

Director Lars Olevberg and the script by Tyler Burton Smith play it smart by combining the elements of camp and horror in what turns out to be a fast-moving totally entertaining reboot.  The film proves tat camp and scares can work extremely well together.  CHILD’S PLAY delivers what is expected and more.

The film opens in Kaslan Industry’s Vietnam factory that makes these big tech dolls.  A Vietnamese worker goofs off and is slapped awake by his supervisor.  Angrily, he removes all the doll’s control inhibition functions on the chip before inserting it into the doll.  It is comical to see see and hear Vietnamese in a horror film done tongue-in-cheek and it works.  The doll is eventually sold in the States but the customer returns this defective doll to a Zed-Mart worker, who is a single mother (Aubrey Plaza).  Instead of returning the doll to the factory gives, she gives it as a birthday person to her son, Andy.  This is when the trouble starts.  Chucky, the doll starts having a life of his own and in his desperation of keeping Andy as a friend, does away with those that annoy Andy beginning with the family cat.

Director Olevberg does not skimp on the blood and gore as in the lawnmower scene.  But the segment can be taken tongue-in-cheek as in the one whee the kids are laughing out loud as bodies are being dismembered, while watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE on the television.  There is a hidden message here in how Americans, typically American kids have been dis-sanitized from violence in films.

More camp comes in the form of the excellent ‘Buddi’ theme song, which is also played for laughs during the film’s closing credits.  Chucky also has dialogue “Are we having fun yet?” or “Is it time to play again?” to creep audiences out.

Aubrey Plaza is one of the funniest actresses around who frequently inhabits roles of loose women as evident in THE NUNS and BAD GRANDPA.  In CHILD’S PLAY, she plays a young single mother (who in he own words had a fertile sweet sixteen) has a kid who also catches her making out when entering the apartment one day.  Gabriel Bateman is also excellent as Andy Barclay the son, but one would think they would have got a younger actor to play the part.  This Andy looks too old to be receiving a toy doll for his birthday, though it may be argued that this one has all the modern controls to turn on the stereo etc.

It is coincidental that TOY STORY 4 also opens this week both with the boy also called Andy.  These are two films about toys – one for family and the other for horror fans, which make the perfect counter-programming market strategy.



Film Review: INGRID GOES WEST (USA 2017) ***1/2

INGRID GOES WESTAn unhinged social media stalker moves to LA and insinuates herself into the life of an Instagram star.

Director: Matt Spicer
Writers: David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Review by Gilbert Seah
Actress Aubrey Plaza has been busy in the production chair lately with her recent THE LITTLE HOURS, a naughty little comedy about misbehaving nuns and now with INGRID GOES WEST, again a naughty little comedy but with more drama about a misbehaving Ingrid. Plaza stars in both films, creating a niche for herself as in DIRTY GRANDPA always playing a misbehaving youth.

INGRID GOES WEST (great title, by the way), is a more ambitious project with a stronger narrative this making way for a better picture. INGRID GOES WEST is the most accomplished of all the Aubrey Plaza films so that fans of hers are aware. She play a psycho habitual stalker desperate to make friends at all costs, including causing grievous bodily harm to her targets and herself.

When the film begins, she has already stalked Charlotte who has got a restraining oder on her. Yet Ingrid (Plaza) shows up at Charlotte’s wedding and pepper sprays her during the wedding dance. Ingrid is then institutionalized. The sudden passing away of her mother leaving her a large sum of money, $60,000 in cash allows her to carry on her stalking comfortably till all hell breaks lose. The coming across of the money is an excuse for the story to have its character continue her exploits.

Plaza’s character reminds one immediately of Anna Faris, the lead in Gregg Araki’s SMILEY FACE, in which the f***ed up lead goes around the entire film causing drama and damage to herself and every person around her. In this story, Ingrid’s new target in Instagram celebrity Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) and her artist husband (Wyatt Russell). Taylor and Ingrid initially hit it along, with Ingrid stalking her half the time photographing everything without her knowledge. Ingrid also has an admirer, her black landlord (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who she eventually has a relationship with. His obsession with everything Batman proves a lot of laugh-out loud jokes. But things get tough with the appearance of Taylor’s obnoxious but good-looking buffed up drug taking drunken brother, Nicky (Billy Magnussen) who finds out the truth about Ingrid’s motives. He blackmails her and things get out of control.

The film rarely contains a dull moment. When things start to smoothen out, one can always count on Ingrid to f*** things up again.

The film also contains a soundtrack of popular 80’s and 90’s tunes that keep the spirit of the film going.

One of the rare achievements of the film, courtesy of both actress Plaza and writer/director Spicer is the creation of a character that is such an alpha female loser that the audience wishes the worst on her and that all her plots be foiled. Yet the character created is one to sympathized.

The film’s one flaw is the tacked on unhappy ending. The ending is predictable for a film with a story centring on social media. Apart from that, this is one totally entertaining f***ed up movie about a f***ed up person doing f***ed up things. The film debuted at Sundance 2017, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for co-writers Spicer and David Branson Smith.


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Happy Birthday: Aubrey Plaza

aubreyplaza.jpgHappy Birthday actor Aubrey Plaza

Born: June 26, 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA






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Movie Review: DIRTY GRANDPA (2016)

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dirty_grandpa.jpgDIRTY GRANDPA (USA 2015) ***1/2
Directed by Dan Mazer

Starring: Zac Efron, Robert DeNiro, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza

Review by Gilbert Seah

Read Interview with the Art Director Jeremy Woolsey

A party scene has one character saying: “Party till you are pregnant!” Another has a prosthetic penis (an erect one at that) in the face of Zac Efron in bed after the De Niro character admits that ‘naked’ is the best way of sleeping.

If the above offends, stay away from DIRTY GRANDPA – the movie. The film is meant to offend. If the above do not do it, De Niro gets to use the ’N’ word later on in the movie. It is what is expected from the British co-writer Dam Mazer, who penned the BORAT and ALI G. characters with Sacha Baron Cohen. But DIRTY GRANDPA is extremely funny, if not a bit inconsistent in its laughs. But if a few jokes fail, one knows there are more successful ones to offend just around the corner.

But the film has a poor start with the funeral services of Dick Kelly’s (De Niro) wife of 15 years. Cousin Nick’s (Adam Pally) drunken shenanigans (speeches and small talk) are unfunny and a waste of time. His later appearance does more of the same and director Mazer would have done better to edit this character out of the film. Then there is the appearance of Dick’s grandson, Jason (Efron) and his annoying fiancé, Meredith (Julianne Hough). The Meredith character and her scenes are also unfunny at all, though her character is key to the film’s plot. John Phillip’s script could have given her a few funny moments.

The film’s simple plot allows for lots of hilarious distractions. Dick fools his grandson Jason to drive him to Florida for spring break for the sole reason that Dick and his late wife go there every year. But Dick has another agenda up his sleeve. He finally confesses to Jason once there in the film’s funniest line: “I have been faithful for 15 years, and all I want to do now is fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” The two get a chance when they meet two hot chicks Shadia (Zoey Deutch) and Lenore (Aubrey Plaza) on the road.

The film’s funniest parts are nothing less than inspired. At a beach party, there is a ‘Flex Off”, a take off from a ‘Dance-Off’ where Dick and Jason hilariously take on a couple of hunks in the contest. Another exceptionally funny segment is when Jason gets drunk and naked, smokes crack and takes off stoned on a motorbike to a beach where he is mistaken for a child pervert.

Oscar winner De Niro has proven his comedic skills in films like MEET THE PARENTS and THE FAMILY, while Efron has proven himself just as proficient in last year’s NEIGHBOURS. Together, they form a dynamic duo in comedy.

The film’s climax does not involve anything as dramatic as the heroes saving the world but involves the heroes accomplishing an equally daunting task. Dick gets to fuck after 15 years in another very funny segment. If you are prepared not to be offended, DIRTY GRANDPA proves enough filth for the funny bone for the entire 2016.

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