I Would Come Out to M3GAN
NO NOTES. FILM OF THE YEAR. BYE.
Let me say this right fucking now: There will be no M3GAN slander in this house. Like every other mentally ill queer, I am obsessed with the killer robotic doll who twirled into our lives and took the internet by storm when the trailer dropped late last year. It was love at first sight, even before I knew it was produced by contemporary horror icon James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Annabelle, Malignant). I would make this bitch my emergency contact.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
This is a film that is very self-aware. Right off the bat it opens with a commercial for a tooting Furby-like toy that shits itself called Purrpetual Petz, setting the tone for the film from the get-go. In the next scene, eight-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw, who was also in The Haunting of Hill House—we stan) is playing with her Purrpetual Pet in the backseat of a car. She and her parents are on their way to a ski lodge in Oregon in the middle of a severe winter storm—because of course they are—until a plow appears out of nowhere, killing her parents—because of course it does.
Cady goes to live with her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), whom my friend and I called Marnie for the entire movie. (I just found a lot of parallels between the character she’s playing in this movie, and the one she played in HBO’s Girls, i.e., I can totally see Marnie becoming the sole guardian of a bereaved child who’d just lost her parents in a terrible accident and being like, “Oh.”)
Gemma/Marnie is a robotics engineer who works for the same Seattle-based tech company that produces Purrpetual Petz, and has been developing a life-sized doll powered by artificial intelligence (and scrupulously programmed to be a loyal companion for children) called Model 3 Generative Android, M3GAN for short.
When I tell you the audience cheered when M3GAN first appeared on-screen, I mean it was a deafening chorus. And bitch, I was the loudest; it was like that performance of “Oh, Happy Day” in Sister Act 2, and I was Ahmal hitting that famed high note.
Her boss, David (Ronny Chieng), orders her to drop the project after a faulty demonstration. Right away I knew he would be killed; such acts of homophobia cannot go unpunished. But Gemma/Marnie is a workaholic, and instead of bonding with her newly orphaned niece, she continues to work on M3GAN, right under David’s nose. (An ally!)
Back at home, Gemma/Marnie and Cady struggle to adapt to cohabitation. Cady is obviously grief-stricken and lonely, and Gemma/Marnie is like, “Here’s an iPad.” This, to Gemma/Marnie’s chagrin, does little to nothing to assuage the immeasurable sadness her niece feels. But, when Cady walks in on her aunt in her home office, who is reluctantly working on a report for her boss, she is immediately smitten by a prototype of M3GAN. Eureka! This propels Gemma/Marnie to finish her, for Cady.
The finished model is officially paired with Cady like a pair of AirPods, and we finally see M3GAN in action. Her emotional intelligence endears the audience to her; she just wants what’s best for Cady!!!!!!!!! Meanwhile, David sees dollar signs after watching M3GAN interact with Cady, and is so convinced of the project’s success that he wants to present the doll to the company’s investors and make plans to go public.
Cady begins to form a strong emotional attachment to M3GAN. The doll quickly becomes her best friend, even taking over the parental duties that Gemma/Marnie would have otherwise been responsible for. But M3GAN’s role in Cady’s life extends beyond confidante, into—some would say—lethal defender, I say nurturing caretaker!!!!!!! She begins to operate more independently, by virtue of her ability to self-improve and adapt, and begins targeting anything she considers a threat to Cady:
She kills the neighbor’s ill-behaved dog after it bites Cady. Later, she chases down a foul-mouthed bully of Cady’s (he’d earlier told his mom: “Fuck off, Holly,” which I immediately made the subject of my out-of-office email response) in the woods after tearing off his ear. He is then killed after he trips and falls in to the path of an oncoming car. After their ornery neighbor Celia (Lori Dungey) repeatedly confronts Gemma/Marnie, Cady, and M3GAN, accusing them of having something to do with her missing dog, M3GAN lures her into a shed before killing her with garden chemicals and shooting her with a nail gun. Someone stood up and shouted, “WORKKKKKK.” (It was me.)
Before we move on, I need you to know that in the middle of all of this, M3GAN, at one point, covers, on the nose as it is, Sia’s “Titanium” at Cady’s bedside. This is not relevant to the plot, but it is relevant TO EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.
By now, Gemma/Marnie is more-than-suspicious of M3GAN. She’s not so sure she’s ready to be revealed to the world just yet, but David is adamant about unveiling M3GAN before another company usurps the concept. When she attempts to check M3GAN’s video logs to see if she was involved in any of the deaths, she finds the files either corrupted or erased.
(I love how this whore has the capacity to remove any evidence of guilt, a real human emotion!!!!!!! As for me, I once cried after attempting to use MailChimp.)
Gemma/Marnie finds herself having to trick M3GAN into turning off and rushes to take her to her colleagues, Tess (Jen Brown) and Cole (Brian Jordan Alvarez), for repairs. To say Cady is upset would be a grand understatement. Her connection to—and withdrawal from—M3GAN causes her to lash out with violence—she slaps Gemma/Marnie in the face!!!!—which makes Gemma/Marnie realize that M3GAN is no substitute for the parenting she should have been doing herself; M3GAN is not the solution Gemma/Marnie designed her to be.
But it’s too late! The investors of the tech company are so impressed with M3GAN that they release a worldwide campaign before her foray into the market. In the meantime, Gemma/Marnie, Tess, and Cole make the decision to terminate M3GAN, and while Gemma/Marnie takes Cady home, Tess and Cole remain behind to shut M3GAN down.
But, oh! No weapon formed against M3GAN shall prosper!!!!!!!!!!!!
Before he can even do anything, M3GAN retaliates by hanging Cole with a chain. While Tess tries to free Cole, M3GAN causes part of their lab to detonate and turns the alarms off, escaping into another wing of the building. This brings us to the part everyone in the theater was waiting for.
Let the soon-to-be-if-not-already-being-performed-by-drag-queens-across-the-world choreo and killing begin! She corners David in a corridor, after performing her now-iconic routine. Then proceeds to stab both him and his assistant (the latter is whom she frames for both deaths!!!!!!!!) to death in an elevator with the blade of a paper cutter. She then hijacks a car and drives to Gemma/Marnie’s house for the movie’s final showdown.
Back at the house, M3GAN confronts Gemma/Marnie with the intention of leaving the exchange as Cady’s primary guardian. Gemma/Marnie attempts to shut M3GAN down again, but is quickly overpowered by M3GAN who has her—and every homosexual at Williamsburg Cinemas!—by the throat. A horrified Cady tries to come to her aunt’s rescue by using Bruce, a giant motion-capture robot also invented by Gemma/Marnie, to clobber M3GAN into a bunch of pieces.
M3GAN is not happy about the betrayal. And, if I’m being honest, neither am I!!!!!!! (Does no one teach kids manners anymore????????)
With her head and arms still active, M3GAN sets her killer sights on Cady. Before she can enact her revenge, Gemma/Marnie uncovers a professing chip in M3GAN’s head. Cady stabs the exposed chip with a screwdriver, seemingly destroying M3GAN…
While her body appears to be lifeless, her consciousness—can we even call it that? Is this something the film wants us to debate??? Maybe so, but I’ll let the smart people tackle that while I continue saving M3GAN memes—seems to have been uploaded to the cloud. As Gemma/Marnie and Cady leave the house to greet the incoming police, the camera in Gemma/Marnie’s smart home slowly turns to watch them, an ominous cliffhanger for what I’m fairly confident will turn into a wildly successful franchise.
Listen, this movie is fun, plain and simple. It’s equal parts terrifying and hilarious. You are not bending over backwards to understand the subtext, nor doing mental gymnastics to follow some esoteric subplot. I wouldn’t even call it a “good bad movie,” because it knows what it is, claims its ridiculousness with conviction, all while making some salient points about our relationship to modern technology. The race to top among tech giants developing AI is, after all, well under way.
While the sequel is far away—Deadline just reported a January 17, 2025 release—I’m sure we’ll see M3GAN again very soon (probably as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race). Now, if you’ve been on the fence and haven’t yet seen this movie, and I’ve successfully convinced you to—spoilers be damned—twirl, don’t walk, to your nearest movie theater.
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Cover art by: James Jeffers
Photo credits: Universal Studios
Editorial assistant: Jesse Adele
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