Child’s Play 2

childsplay2With a nasty disposition and a hairstyle that’d be the envy of Keith Urban, Chucky thrust himself into the public consciousness in 1988.

A mere two years later, Child’s Play 2 picks up where its understated, and it should be said, fairly spirited predecessor left off, with the killer ginger doll on the hunt for  young Andy (role reprised by Alex Vincent).

Little orphan Andy has been taken in by doll aficionados, the well-meaning Chicagoan foster family Phil and Joanne Simpson. (Is there any more prosaic a name for a dull suburban dad than Phil? It’s a tradition carried on by the stellar and heartfelt ABC comedy, Modern Family.)

It’s in the Simpson homestead that the spirit of the Lakeshore Killer, Charles Lee Ray, still trapped in a freckled doll, pummels his “Hugs to the end” “dollppelgänger” Tommy with a rare porcelain statue.

Why is Chucky back? In addition to the fact that first Child’s Play film grossed $45 million you mean?

Well, in a toy lab, Chucky’s unscrupulous creators at Play Pals have rebuilt him from the ground up to prove there are no manufacturing defects. And thanks to that ever-popular deus ex machina known as lightning, the spirit of Chuck is back to make another buck, asphyxiating the Play Pal CEO’s personal assistant and going on the lam.

The Simpsons are less than thrilled with the ever-unreliable narrator Andy’s claims about a sentient doll and worry if they can look after the psychologically troubled youngster. Naturally, Andy’s troubles at home extend to the classroom, and it’s there that Chucky sets up Andy by drawing profanity on his homework. And later, Chucky wails on poor homeroom teacher Miss Kettlewell with a wooden ruler.

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Andy tries to subdue his nemesis doll in the basement with an electric knife, but Chucky is on to him, hooking poor Phil Simpson in the foot and chucking him to the concrete.

Mostly disjointed, Child’s Play 2 does come alive at times, although not frequently enough to match the first one, Tom Holland’s opus.

Overall though, it lacks the quirk, the punch and the novelty of the first film, relying increasingly on the doll’s ever sassy barbs. Still, there’s enough to chew on to justify its existence (and that’s saying something given the state of horror sequels).

*** (out of 5)

[Be sure to check out our Child’s Play podcast]

Dolemite

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[CHECK OUT OUR DOLEMITE PODCAST!!!!]

Dolemite is my name and f*ckin’ up other mutha f*ckers is my game! Who could not love a rhyming couplet like that?

Doing serious pen time for trafficking in illegal furs (really) as well as half a mil in blow, Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) is offered a way out by the warden: in exchange for his release, he has to take out drug kingpin Willie Green, responsible for bringing the “4th Ward” of whatever fictional city this is, to its knees, in cahoots with a corrupt white mayor…The only people in on this plan, the warden, whorehouse madame Queen B and an unnamed FBI agent.

Once the deal is done, and following unnecessary flashbacks and some shaky exposition, Dolemite doffs his peels for a dapper jumpsuit, not even waiting to get home to change: he strips down to his tighty whities right outside the prison gates, brought to him by limo by his bitches (This, as the less than impressed guards call out: “you’ll be back, Dolemite!”).

Meanwhile, the newly freed warrior is harassed by two cops on the take while he goes about his business.

He gets the lay of the land from Creeper, aka, The Hamburger Pimp, a shuffling base head who’s promptly assassinated. We learn that Willie Green has taken over Dolemite’s Dolemite-themed nightclub and big D has to get rid of WG, an original OG. Along with this colorful cast of characters — a reverend who runs guns, a karate-kicking all-female militia force, dancer Chi (short for Chicago) — the omnipresent boom mic is a character unto itself, , at the top and the bottom of many a frame (hey, this is an extremely low budget affair).

DOLEMITE_filmAt the center of the mess, Dolemite, who carries BB King’s girth and drops Grandmaster Flashes’ rhymes, an urban poet who delights assembled street toughs and captive audiences alike with parables about monkeys and lions as well as what might’ve gone down on the Titanic had the racial politics been different.

But there’s business to attend to, including avenging his nephew Lil Jimmy’s murder. He lays waste to much of the 4th Ward’s criminal element with half-baked karate chops and elephantine spinning back kicks.

The semi-comatose Dolemite, is still good for the odd line like “You no good rap soup eatin’ honkey mutha f*cka!”

Where can you dine on this specialty? Nobody knows for sure but Rudy Ray Moore has a gift of gab, and a grab bag of put downs that could skewer a dozen Yo Mama wannabes. See, we have skills too.

As an introduction to blaxploitation, Rudy Ray Moore is no Ron O’Neal, can’t hold a lighter to Fred Williamson and sure as hell ain’t Richard Roundtree (though he’s plenty round).

As inept as it is hilarious and beguiling, Dolemite is kinda must-see material — basically an excuse for Moore to showcase his less-than-stellar stand-up, his band and the Dolemite Dancers.

***1/2 (out of 5)