Spoil Sports: M3gan (2023)

M3gan’s easy to pitch. Android babysitter goes berserk! Evil doll learns to dance! When the trailer went viral, I assumed I’d already seen the best material. It took rave reviews and some rowdy gay friends to get me in the cinema. I was impressed.

The clever screenplay and pitch perfect cast find the right mix of scares, laughs and social commentary. M3gan is everything camp-lovers want her to be. Violet McGraw’s layered performance as a grieving child is the glue that holds it together. The story beats are predictable. But if you’re looking for a PG-13 horror comedy with a diva twist then M3gan’s got you covered.

And now some spoilery thoughts.

Act One. It takes 30 minutes to introduce M3gan to Cady. We needed that time to establish Cady’s trauma and dysfunctional relationship with Aunt Gemma. There’s a reason they grow so dependent on M3gan.

Act Two Victims. It takes less than 10 minutes for M3gan to turn. The mean dog, deranged bully and obnoxious neighbor are quickly established as @**hole victims. We know they’ll hurt Cady and succumb to M3gan’s wrath. We’re encouraged to cheer her on. Yaas queen! Slay girlboss! etc.

Jack Cassidy’s bully was particularly impressive. It’s hard work to ease the audience into rooting against a kid. But Cassidy sold every minute of his screen time.  

Aunt Gemma is the ideal Dr. Frankenstein. A narcissist. Laser focused on her career. Oblivious to the chaos until she’s forced to pay attention. Her relationship with Cady was more believable than her relationship with M3gan. Though M3gan’s final rant attempted to explain this. I appreciate that Alison Williams never asks the audience for sympathy. I also glad that the filmmakers didn’t bury her in misogyny like the career woman in Jurassic World. Some people shouldn’t raise kids and that’s okay. Just don’t put a killer robot in charge of them.

Act Three Victims. Here it gets messy. The engineers (Jordan Alvarez and Jen Van Epps) had no personality. I suspect they didn’t survive an earlier draft. The boss (Ronny Chieng) was another @**hole. But M3gan never interacted with him. Her dance murder of him and his assistant (Stephane Garneau-Monten) came out of nowhere. I wish there’d been at least one rude interaction beforehand to set that moment up. Her elevator monologue suggests she learned more about them in an earlier draft as well.

Final Battle. I liked M3gan’s dialogue with Gemma, and their final battle. I love how Cady’s actions revealed her character development. But there were few surprises here. None of the wild anarchy of that fueled the middle stretch.

Sequels? I worry. If we’re getting a sequel I want a bonkers Gremlins 2. Not a safe, forgettable Ghostbusters 2. M3gan could become a tragic anti-hero. Or a wisecracking meme generator. More dancing! More one liners! Etc. But now that we know what she’s about the magic may be gone.

What did you think of M3gan? Do you want more?