(director: Gerard Johnstone; screenwriter: Akela Cooper; cinematographers: Simon Raby/Peter McCaffrey; editor: Jeff McEvoy; music: Anthony Willis; cast: Violet McGraw (Cady), Allison Williams (Gemma), Brian Jordan Alvarez (Cole), Jen Van Epps (Tess), Amie Donald (M3gan), Jenna Davis (voice M3gan), Ronny Chieng (David), Lori Dungey (Celia), Jack Cassidy (Brandon), Stephane Garneau-Monten (Kurt); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jason Blum/James Wan/Couper Samuelson; Universal Pictures; 2022)
“Robotic high-tech killer doll film that’s silly but entertaining.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
New Zealander filmmaker Gerard Johnstone (“Housebound”) directs this campy and preposterous sci-fi robotic high-tech killer doll film that’s silly but entertaining. It’s written by Akela Cooper as tongue-in-cheek satire on technology that goes bad.
Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) is a coding expert for the robotics team at Funki, who gives her 8-year-old niece Cady (Violet McGraw) a robo-pet as a birthday gift, which make her parents unhappy about the amount of time the girl spends operating the gadget on her iPad.
While on a ski trip, the parents get into a head-on collision with a snow truck. Thereby Gemma is granted temporary protective custody of the orphaned Cady, in her home in the Seattle suburbs.
The go-getter CEO David (Ronny Chieng), Gemma’s boss, wants the team to come up with a cheaper pet robot option, to undercut their competitors. When their expensive side project M3GAN malfunctions during a test, David cancels the project. Gemma is overcome with sadness about Cady’s loss of a doll and, as a substitute for her lack of parenting skills, brings one of the untested M3GAN’s home for Cady to play with.
When David observes the 4-foot doll interacting with a happy Cady, he changes his mind and decides to manufacture the robot.
Gemma ignores a therapist’s warning about attachment theory and the concerns of her colleague Tess (Jen Van Epps), who claims that M3GAN should be a tool to support traditional parenting and not replace it. Casualties come about because the doll’s primary purpose is to protect Cady from any threat, but when M3GAN questions Gemma’s authority things go awry.
Dark comedy hitches itself to a doll story and a suspenseful bloody rampage story ensues.
It’s a fun film not to be taken too seriously, that nevertheless makes valid comments on modern parenting and their possible mistake to rely too much on technology while ignoring old-fashioned parenting credos that the most important thing is giving the child love and support.
REVIEWED ON 1/7/2023 GRADE: B