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M3GAN Movie Review

If you saw the trailer for M3GAN and thought you had already seen most of the movie, you’re not wrong. If you thought the same movie has already been made many times before, you’re also not wrong. Somehow M3GAN manages to charm you enough that its predictability and familiarity don’t even matter.

Gemma (Allison Williams) creates robots for the Funki toy company. When her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) is suddenly orphaned, Gemma steps in as guardian. Her creation, M3GAN, (short for Model 3 Generative Android) helps to ease Cady’s transition into the new household, but she takes her mission to protect Cady a little too seriously.

(from left) Cady (Violet McGraw), M3GAN and Gemma (Allison Williams) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.
© 2022 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.

What Works In M3GAN

Sure, it’s probably most accurate to call M3GAN a sci-fi horror film. It’s also pretty accurate to call it a comedy. While never too campy, the film has multiple laugh-out-loud moments from the opening faux commercial for the Funki toy company right down to the closing scene. It manages to be funny without the over the top silliness that usually pervades horror comedies. The laughs are the kind that probably benefit from seeing it on the big screen, in a theater full of patrons laughing along with you. The exact same way any horror film is enhanced by a crowd primed to react to the jump scares.

M3GAN is delightfully creepy, so you can’t help but enjoy watching her evil turn. Every horror fan knows that you have to root at least a little for the killer to really enjoy it. This spooky doll has enough charisma – and few deserving victims – to make you cheer for her. At least a little.

The film very deliberately comes in with a PG-13 rating. The goal is to scare, but not to traumatize. Some thrillers really suffer from racheting back the violence to avoid an R-rating. M3GAN gives you the chills you need without making you feel like something is missing.

Maybe it’s just the fact that the last two movies I’ve seen in a theater were both over 3 hours long, but I also rejoiced at M3GAN‘s runtime of under 2 hours. There’s no bloat to the film. It gets you invested and develops the characters, then it dives into the action. Who knew that watching a film without wondering if your bladder would make it all the way through could be such a blessing?

(from left) M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.
© 2022 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.

What Doesn’t Work In M3GAN

As I mentioned, you’ve seen M3GAN before. Probably dozens of times by this point. “Sentient robots bad” is a tale as old as time. I kept waiting for the surprise, the point where M3GAN would be different from all of those other films. It never happened. I even thought I saw that twist coming two different times, but nope. Same story, different sentient robot. There’s probably some praise in that observation for writer Akela Cooper and director Gerard Johnstone. While I wouldn’t have looked askance at a bit of story subversion, the story they did tell worked just fine. Maybe we’ll get that surprise payoff in the sequel.

What To Know Before You See M3GAN

M3GAN is a horror film, so if that’s not your cup of tea you’ll want to stay home. It’s not too scary, so those on the fence can probably enjoy this trip to the movies. Be prepared for some laughs, a few jump scares, and a handful of violent and bloody scenes. As long as you don’t expect it to totally reinvent the genre, M3GAN is a heck of a good time.

About M3GAN

Rating: PG-13 (Terror|Some Strong Language|A Suggestive Reference|Violent Content)
Runtime: 1h 42m

M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a lifelike doll that’s programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by Gemma, a brilliant roboticist, M3GAN can listen, watch and learn as it plays the role of friend and teacher, playmate and protector. When Gemma becomes the unexpected caretaker of her 8-year-old niece, she decides to give the girl an M3GAN prototype, a decision that leads to unimaginable consequences.

As The Bunny Hops®