Child's Play (1988) Movie Poster Image

Child's Play (1988)

Dumb-scary horror character plays well for teens.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While Andy and his protective mother are ostensibly admirable characters, the mechanics of the plot depict most of the adult world as domineering and threatening, with authority figures (like a psychologist) who refuse to believe Andy and put the innocent lad in even greater harm's way.

Violence

An unusually low body count, but Chucky still attacks and maims with a knife, a bat, even his teeth. One character shot to death, another electrocuted until his face becomes hideously charred. Voodoo magic breaks limbs. Explosions and reckless driving.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

The F-word a few times, the S-word, "S-O-B," a woman called a "slut."

Consumerism

Products are fictitious, but you remember toys (like Teddy Ruxpin) who bear a certain mild resemblance to the Chucky "Good Guy" doll. Yes, there are "Chucky" action figures for sale now.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character smokes, and there is a brief visit to a boozy Skid Row neighborhood.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this could have gotten a PG-13 rating if it weren't for the F-words. There are a few killings, the violence mostly of an unreal horror-flick variety (an electrocution victim gets charred and bloody, like hamburger). Some kids do have fears about dolls coming to life -- Poltergeist exploited this phobia superbly -- and younger kids might be scared by visuals of a vicious killer doll (though when the diminutive Chucky hurls himself at victims older kids will probably be able to laugh it off). Sequels grew even more bloody and twisted, but also more satirical over time.

What's the story?

In Chicago, a fleeing murderer named Charles Ray (Brad Dourif), who just happens to be a disciple of voodoo magic, is cornered by tough cop Mike (Chris Sarandon) in a toy store. Fatally shot, the dying villain mystically transfers his soul into a "Good Guy," a popular doll with a battery-operated voicebox ("I'm your friend to the end! Hi-de-ho!") and rudimentary facial expressions. The innocent-looking doll is subsequently purchased by Karen (Catherine Hicks), a struggling young widow, as a plaything for her 6-year-old son Andy (Alex Vincent). At first Andy's stories about being able to converse with the doll "Chucky" and blaming Chucky for nuisances around the apartment, just seem to be the little boy's imagination. When a babysitter is killed, however, it's just the beginning of a new rampage by Charles Ray -- but how can Karen (or investigating officer Mike) believe little Andy's claims that the doll is guilty?

Is it any good?

QUALITY

While the premise of an evil toy has built-in appeal for youthful horror addicts, very little of CHILD'S PLAY is easy to take seriously. From its over-the-top '80s-action beginning to its Terminator -like conclusion, you'll be amazed the actors managed to keep from giggling. Some decent moments early on evoke much sympathy for unfairly accused Andy, and there are particularly effective shudders when the script just allows our fear to do all the work envisioning an ambulatory, killer doll at large. Brief glimpses of the small, scuttling figure around corners, quick cuts to Chucky's head barely moving -- suggestions like that are unexpectedly creepy.

But when the filmmakers finally unleash the full f/x, with Chucky snarling, swearing, biting, knifing, and flinging himself bodily at grown-ups, laughter is the gut reaction, and a parade of sequels ultimately degenerated into comedy, at least getting the inherent stupidity of the whole premise out in the open. Fans might claim to find a touch of social commentary in the ancillary detail that the Good Guy doll is supposed to be (like Tickle Me Elmo and XBoxes in past years) one of those in-demand Christmas gifts that cue shopper frenzies to buy them (as parodied in the non-horror Jingle All the Way). But if this was meant as any sort of slam against toy-industry overcommercialization, sorry; Chucky missed that boat several sequels back.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what parts are scary and what are not. Ever find yourself being afraid of a toy or a doll? Child's Play 3 was a part of the James Bulger murder case in England, in which two boys had allegedly watched the movie before killing a younger boy. The video was blamed in tabloid press for inspiring the murder. Do you think horror movies can incite violence?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 15, 2008
DVD/Streaming release date:September 28, 1999
Cast:Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon
Director:Todd Holland
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Horror
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:R

This review of Child's Play (1988) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 10 year old Written byxboxgeek May 8, 2011

N

Before i started to watch this movie i had expectations that it would filled with blood, heads being broken ect. But its not got a scene with gushing blood and its not scary i would call it an action film rather than horror
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Adult Written byhomey335 May 28, 2012

Good for 13 and up, maybe even 12

Violence: 5/10- A character is shot. People are hit with hammers, bitten, electrocuted, and killed with voodoo dolls. Chucky attempts to kill people with a knife. Chucky is burned twwice throughout the movie. But the effects aren't graphic at all. There is rarely any bloody scenes. Sexual content: 2/10- A hobo begins to rape a woman, but he is stopped. Language: 6/10- F**k is used 3 times. Sh*t was used at the very beginning of the movie twice. B*tch, sl*t, d*mnit, a**, and god's name in vain are all heard. Drinking and drugs: 2/10- Smoking. Frightining or scary scenes: 4/10- It's not scary at all compared to other horror movies; it should've got a PG-13.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent Written byMichael B July 28, 2013

Eh

It was ok
What other families should know
Too much violence