- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

It’s hard to believe 1988’s “Child’s Play” provided a few stiff chills between the chuckles. Four sequels later, the “Child’s Play” franchise doesn’t even rise to the straight-to-video standard.

Yet somehow here comes “Seed of Chucky,” loitering at the nearest multiplex as if the world couldn’t rest without learning whatever became of the red-headed killing machine.

The series long ago lost the ability to scare us. Now, it can’t even get the laughs to fall in the right places.

The only person who truly should be spooked is Jennifer Tilly, who gamely provided the voice of Chucky’s bride, Tiffany, in the last installment but goes quite a few steps further here.

She plays herself, a burned out actress bitter over losing parts to the likes of Julia Roberts.

Gee, you earn one Oscar nomination (for 1994’s “Bullets Over Broadway”) and suddenly you’re supposed to be on Harvey Weinstein’s speed dial?

But while John Malkovich earned kudos by spoofing his serious image in 1999’s “Being John Malkovich,” Miss Tilly shows she’ll only accept scripts that give her more than three lines — and that her bountiful cleavage deserves a trailer all its own.

As for the “Seed of Chucky” story… well, it has something to do with another living doll named Glen (voiced by Billy Boyd) who suffers from sexual identity problems and parental conflicts. He thinks he’s Chucky and Tiffany’s offspring, but he doesn’t like killing nearly as much as his parents.

When Glen learns of a Hollywood movie based on the Chucky “urban legend” going into production, he high-tails it to Tinseltown to reunite with his family. From there, it’s only a matter of time before the young doll — named both Glen and Glenda in an unwelcome homage to junk auteur Ed Wood — takes up the family business.

“Seed of Chucky” is awfully pleased with itself for a movie that can’t bother with a plot and treats a dysfunctional puppet family like a Jerry Springer episode.

Writer/director Don Mancini, who created the Chucky character in the first place and wrote all five films, finally got a chance to call the shots.

Mr. Mancini clearly has his heart in the right place at times, eager to mock the conventions he set up in the previous “Chuckys.” But the film’s faint promise collapses in the second half. It’s as if the principal actors suddenly ditched their lines, and alternately screamed and wrestled with the puppet stars until someone yelled “cut.”

How ironic that at a time when “Team America: World Police” showed that marionettes could convey real emotions, Chucky and company prove just the opposite despite more maneuverable mugs.

Low budget hardly describes the level of commitment here, which is sort of the point. Audiences prove again and again they’ll swallow any horror film sequel for a weekend or two; more than enough time for these cheapies to make their money back and then some.

Should anyone not specifically ordered to see “Seed of Chucky” — like, say, a movie critic — pony up their money, it’s just a matter of time before “Chucky, Part XI” comes our way.

Please. Save your money and spare us from future agony.

WHAT: “Seed of Chucky”

RATING: R (Horror-style violence, nudity, coarse language)

CREDITS: Written and directed by Don Mancini

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

WEB SITE: www.seed-of-chucky.com


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