Review | ‘M3GAN’ — Unexpectedly hilarious


Image via Universal Studios

M3GAN movie poster released by Universal Studios.

By Maria Scanga, Senior Staff Writer

This review contains some spoilers.

The sci-fi horror brand is not all that new, but the comedy-horror-camp era that “M3GAN” is ushering into pop culture is a fresh take on weaving sci-fi and horror together. 

The release of “M3GAN” followed a publicity campaign that featured a trailer ad on TikTok last month. The awkwardly funny scene of the AI doll dancing immediately went viral. Perhaps the film’s smashing box office success — earning $45 million just in its opening week, far more than most predictions — is thanks to the savvy advertising. 

Audiences of all ages rushed to the theaters to view the film in anticipation of watching the story of the lifelike bot unfold. As Gerard Johnstone’s directorial debut, “M3GAN” garnered positive reviews from critics.

The film begins with a tragic car accident that leaves a young girl, Cady (Violet McGraw) orphaned. Her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) takes Cady under her wing. While Cady struggles with grief, Gemma struggles with parenting and balancing her work and home life. 

Employed at a toy-making company, Gemma works hard to create a lifelike AI doll. Designed as a child’s companion and specifically programmed for43 each individual child it goes to, the doll is an impressive technological advancement. 

After seeing the doll, Gemma’s boss demands Gemma forget about it and focus elsewhere for the toy company. But considering Cady’s grief, Gemma decides to put M3GAN (Jenna Davis) to use as Cady’s new best friend.

“M3GAN” is unflinchingly, and perhaps unintentionally, funny. There were several moments where her behavior and commentary were worthy of actually laughing out loud. The tone of the film frequently comes off as satirical and ironic.

After seeing the successful relationship between Cady and M3GAN, coupled with M3GAN’s somewhat aggressive takeover of Gemma’s parental role, Cady’s therapist warns Gemma that the doll’s existence in Cady’s life might end up doing more harm than good. 

Luckily, M3GAN takes care of this concern herself, becoming increasingly passionate — for lack of a better word — about protecting Cady from all threats, both physical and emotional. She kills a dog that bites Cady, then proceeds to kill the dog’s owner for accusing Gemma of being the reason behind the dog’s disappearance. 

Upon realizing that the doll is secretly becoming dangerously violent, Gemma decides that she must shut down the doll. Upon her shutdown, Cady reacts negatively. She develops anxiety and begins to grieve the loss of the doll, resenting Gemma for taking it away. Gemma uses the opportunity to promise Cady she will do better and be the more dependable, realistic parent versus M3GAN’s unreliable presence. 

At the same time, the news of M3GAN’s uncanny abilities is spreading rapidly. Unknowingly to the public, Gemma and her coworkers work to destroy the project entirely out of caution for the dangerous potential of M3GAN’s intelligence. 

Unfortunately for them, M3GAN is already two steps ahead, and she attacks all of them for their attempts to ruin her, eventually killing one coworker and framing it as a suicide. This moment is one of the funnier ones, despite the violent and creepy nature of M3GAN’s power over humans. 

She then threatens Gemma with taking over her motherly role in Cady’s life, essentially pronouncing she is going to kill her, forcing Gemma and Cady to have to destroy her themselves. Gemma and Cady take down M3GAN in a violent tussle by — ironically — using a different robot that Gemma previously created.

All is right again in the world, and Gemma and Cady reconcile. Just when viewers think they can take a collective sigh of relief, Gemma’s smart home technology watches them, bearing a resemblance to M3GAN’s demeanor and ultimately declaring the war between them not over. 

M3GAN’s uncannily human appearance, as well as her quick wit and sassy quips, makes her a loveable villain. This, coupled with the heartfelt story between niece and aunt, creates a universe that grabs the audience’s attention from the start. Funny, creepy and a tad too realistic, the film expertly combines sci-fi and horror elements with humor. 

The violence is not overly aggressive or bloody and is suitable both for horror lovers and those who scare easily.

Despite the dramatic nature of the film, take it as a cautionary tale that we could absolutely become more technologically advanced than is necessary. Let’s quit the AI doll creations while we’re ahead to avoid a real life “M3GAN” tale.