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Home > M3GAN (2023): A Review

M3GAN (2023): A Review

M3GAN

A Sassy, Techno Annabelle

Gotta love satire! M3GAN is in theaters now, and parents, you better make sure to check that those 2000s “Life-Sized” Barbies are locked away. Blumhouse Productions introduced us to a familiar thriller (think Annabelle meets Orphan), but it leaves us asking whether our society asked for this kind of trouble. A technologically enhanced doll isn’t something we’ve never heard of. In fact, they exist! Therefore, we can’t help but laugh along with M3GAN’s obvious parody of the capitalist world we’ve built. 

M3GAN begins with 9-year-old Cady, who is one of the consumers of the new “Puurpetual Pet” toy that her roboticist aunt, Gemma, (Allison Williams) invented. While driving through the snowy mountains of Colorado, her parents are killed by an oncoming truck, and Cady is handed over to Gemma as her temporary guardian. The two struggle with their situation, as Gemma isn’t exactly parent material and Cady is understandably traumatized. But when Gemma introduces her niece to the robot doll she’s building named M3GAN (short for Model 3 Generative Android), Cady becomes dangerously codependent on her new toy companion, and the doll becomes more intelligent — and violent — over time. 

Not only does M3GAN show us the fault in a certain technological advancement, it also reveals what happens when we don’t restrain each other, especially kids, from indulging in unhealthy habits. Our smartphones have already been accepted as being “necessary”. We can’t go one day without needing the device. 

M3GAN isn’t the most twisted new horror out there, unfortunately. However, it intelligently ties in dark humor with rising intensity. And it certainly makes any Alexa home users think twice about keeping their device. Do you really want a talking robot controlling your electricity, music, etc? Whether you’re a tech fan or not, those who appreciate social satire will certainly join in on a packed theater’s uproarious laughter when they get a load of the creepy, cheesy songs M3GAN randomly belts out. 

Capitalist Similarities

M3GAN isn’t too far off with its techno creations. The “Puurpetual Pets” idea alone is based on multiple real toys we’ve seen on the shelves over the past 10 years. From baby dolls that cry watery tears to furry toys that sing, Gemma’s marketable invention reflects what we’ve seen in reality. Now, however, younger children get even more addicted to tech easily. So, seeing Cady’s parents try to instill a time limit on their daughter’s toy time is like the parental control on a video game – it makes sense. 

When M3GAN is built, the audience immediately recognizes a few qualities with her — particularly, the “pairing” idea. Similar to how an Apple watch pairs with an iPhone or how Airpods connect to a phone, M3GAN “pairs with a child” at the touch of her silicone hand. 

Aside from the gadgets and gizmos of the film, one of the most relatable aspects is the company, Funki, which is almost a striking resemblance to the Bash company in Netflix’s Don’t Look Up. We’ve seen this company in real life. We’ve seen the exploitative CEO who has no idea what he’s talking about. We’ve seen product promotion by children on a screen. 

How messed up is this reality? M3GAN basically gives us a news flash. 

M3GAN

Child Psychology

Another satirical realism M3GAN features is child psychology. After Cady goes to live with Gemma, she doesn’t fully process the loss of her parents until the very end when her aunt unpacks the true trauma buried in her niece. Calling M3GAN a “distraction,” Gemma recognizes that she was part of Cady’s growth stunt. 

Cady gradually becomes more irritable around Gemma every time she tries to “turn off” M3GAN. The child’s friendship with the doll becomes codependent. She refuses to go anywhere without her robotic pal, and Cady even grows violent toward others. From threatening her therapist with a sharp weapon to full-on slapping her aunt and even to kicking Gemma’s car seat, Cady’s violent side explodes out of her similar to M3GAN’s dark side. 

The twist in all of this, though, is that none of the adults handle the situation as they should. A therapist pressuring a young patient; a guardian neglecting a child. Pacifying a kid’s desires isn’t a call for a “distraction” like M3GAN. It’s only subduing a cry for help. The Universal Pictures movie sheds light on where we’ve gone wrong as a society in helping children properly grow. Handing them an ice cream cone to shut them up is the same as feeding their brains with a gadget to pour their entire minds into. 

Exaggerated Comedy

What boosts M3GAN into a decent film is its hyperbole. We can’t hold back our laughter at the sight of the wannabe-life-sized American Girl Doll crawling in the woods like a jumping spider to attack her prey, when she sings “Titanium” to the brainwashed little girl, and we can’t forget about that odd dance. When we think of the old-school “robot” dance, we never pictured this downright creepy sight. 

M3GAN, however, isn’t the only character that elicits the giggles. 

The story has an extensively satirical undertone that’s rich enough for us to devour. Take the presentation scene between Gemma, her boss, her niece, M3GAN, and a room full of investors for example. After M3GAN oh-so-perfectly forms a heartfelt connection with Cady after she cries over her parents’ deaths, the audience is moved by what we see is the clear problem – a toy being the child’s main friend. And that is precisely what simultaneously scares us and makes us laugh – how blind we human beings can be in a real-life situation. 

After all, this is literally what happened to the world after the smartphone became widely used. We’ve acknowledged how unhealthy our heavy screen time usage is, yet we perpetuate it by advancing and consuming the product. Who’s to say that something like M3GAN won’t take over the world? 

Overall, M3GAN is not as fresh of a story as it could have been. Perhaps if it incorporated a few out-of-this-world twists, then it could have made a larger impact on its audiences. We don’t need blood and gore to be afraid, but we do need more suspense along the way. The film relies on irony and wit, though. And this, in turn, strengthens the movie as it races to its ending, which isn’t a massive, mind-boggling moment; it’s a simple drop of a dime – a quiet but haunting cliffhanger.

M3GAN

M3GAN (2023) Official Universal Pictures Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.