Tue. Feb 7th, 2023
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M3GAN is a dastardly sleek horror comedy about kiddo tech gone awry

If you’ve ever wondered if your kids spend a little too much time in front of a screen, meet M3GAN.

The Child’s Play for the “Can I play games on your iPad?” generation, M3GAN is a spunky satire of a world where it’s really not that hard to believe that a cyborg doll could go on a murdering spree. We live in interconnected times, and the evolution of the “screen parent” has gone from plopping your unsupervised kids in front of the television to sending them out into a technological wonderland of responsive entertainment.

M3GAN imagines what would happen if your kid’s toy talked back. Pushing the limits of artificial intelligence engineering, a toy designer (Get Out‘s Allison Williams) designs the marquee mech-moppet with a hope to make parents’ lives easier. The M3GAN doll can understand a child’s emotional bandwidth and respond accordingly, teach them important chunks of information and life skills, supervise them as if it were a babysitter and carry on conversations about anything the doll’s processing mechanism can understand. Nothing could go wrong, right?

Universal Studios

Williams’ inventor gets the perfect opportunity to test M3GAN’s abilities when she assumes custody of her niece Cady (Violet McGraw), whose parents have tragically died in an automobile accident. That poor kid takes to M3GAN like a duck takes to water, but as the film slowly reveals, the two might start to get a little too close. Part of M3GAN’s programming makes her, shall we say, hypersensitive to protecting Cady’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Being that it’s a creepy looking robot doll and all, M3GAN resorts to some unsavory protection methods and starts racking up a body count.

Rather than just revel in the B-level horror hilarity of a sassy M3GAN doll chasing a smarmy toy executive with a paper cutter blade, director Gerald Johnstone and Malignant co-scribe Akela Cooper find fascinating subtext in the film’s programming. It’s a smarter replicant of some of its evil toy peers, digging into the unholy alliance parents can sometimes make with the distractions they give their children. Cooper’s script hammers in the absurdity of allowing a computer to raise your kid, and has plenty of bones to pick with the absentee parenting that builds this kind of culture.

While a M3GAN doll might seem far-fetched, advancements in A.I. could make a creation like this much more plausible in the years to come. The more and more busy parents find technological outs on being present in their kids’ lives, the more a movie like M3GAN becomes eerily prescient.

Universal Studios

While M3GAN certainly has its gleefully meme-able moments, the PG-13 ratings serves as a bit of a parental lock on a more gnarly spectacle. Unlike 2019’s tech-fueled Child’s Play remake, this film is more than content to leave you waiting on some of the more ludicrous angles of its universe for the inevitable follow-ups. However, techo Chucky doesn’t quite make you want to leap from your theater seat and hoot and holler like M3GAN. She’s a dastardly sassy killing machine, ready to bust a move before busting out one of your eyeballs. She’s destined for some sort of place in the pantheon of killer toys, even with just one movie in.

If you could imagine what would’ve happened if Woody the cowboy did his “play nice” speech to Sid on a bad day, that’s what you’d get with M3GAN. It’s a horror comedy that plays it silly but has much more sinister intentions. If you can find a relatively packed theater on a Saturday evening, movie nights in January are made for flicks like M3GAN.

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