M3GAN parents guide

M3GAN Parent Guide

The familiar plot is well told and makes a teen-friendly entry into the world of horror movies.

Overall C

Theaters: Recently orphaned Cady is sent to live with her aunt, a roboticist working on the next generation in AI dolls. The doll, M3GAN, starts to develop a mind of her own, doing everything she can to protect Cady from threats, both real and perceived.

Release date January 6, 2023

Violence C-
Sexual Content A
Profanity C-
Substance Use B

Why is M3GAN rated PG-13? The MPAA rated M3GAN PG-13 for violent content and terror, some strong language and a suggestive reference.

Run Time: 102 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Devastated by her sister’s death, Gemma (Allison Williams) faces a new challenge – caring for her niece, Cady (Violet McGraw). Mired in grief, the young girl is withdrawn and Gemma, who is more comfortable with computers than emotions, has no idea how to help. In an effort to both assist her niece and be productive at work, Gemma dusts off an abandoned project from her job at Funki Toys. The beta project is M3GAN (voiced by Jenna Davis), a lifelike doll with significant Artificial Intelligence capabilities. Programmed to be a “best friend” and to protect her owner, M3GAN brings a smile back to Cady’s face.

Initially, Gemma is elated that M3GAN makes her niece happy. But as M3GAN’s learning modules continue to progress, the android becomes omnipresent in Cady’s life. She’s not just a friend; she’s a therapist, a teacher, and even a surrogate mother. Gemma’s disquiet only deepens when strange things start to happen. A vicious dog disappears; an abusive neighbor dies; a bully is hit by a car. Gemma can’t quite believe that the demure doll is responsible, but she’s determined to run full diagnostics before the toy is mass produced for advance sales. Unfortunately, M3GAN has other ideas…

The ”rogue robot” plotline is hardly original but this movie does a good job with the familiar storyline. It’s predictable but the production values are high enough and the acting sincere enough that the film doesn’t feel too ridiculous. The editing is tight and the pacing moves along briskly, maintaining the tension that audiences expect in a horror flick.

Given the genre, it’s no surprise that M3GAN also serves up a significant amount of violence, although the gore is restricted to some blood splatter. People are shot at with nail guns, attacked with a pressure washer, strangled, and stabbed. In a gruesome scene, a boy’s ear is ripped off his head. It sounds gross – and it is – but as horror movies go, this is pretty chill. True confession time here: this is the first horror movie I’ve made it all the way through. If I can handle it, any teenager can watch this movie. And considering that I even had some fun, I figure this is a slam dunk for anyone who wants to dip a toe in the world of scary movies. True horror fans will doubtless roll their eyes, but this is an easy introduction to the genre. Oscar bait it isn’t, but it will provide some laughs and plenty of chills.

Directed by Gerard Johnstone. Starring Jenna Davis, Allison Williams, Amie Donald. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release January 6, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for M3GAN

Rating & Content Info

Why is M3GAN rated PG-13? M3GAN is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violent content and terror, some strong language and a suggestive reference.

Violence:   There are two fatal car accidents: injuries and a body bag are shown on screen. A dog attacks a child: injuries on her arm are seen and she is bandaged. A boy bullies another child, causing her physical pain. A boy attacks an android. People are attacked with a nail gun, a pressure washer, and an improvised bladed weapon. People are choked. A character deliberately sets a fire. A child’s ear is ripped off. An angry child pulls scissors on an adult and slaps another adult. She also throws furniture at the wall and kicks the driver’s seat in a moving car. A dog is killed off screen. Characters fight with a hammer and a power saw, with resulting injuries. Two robots fight. Dead bodies are seen in a blood-splattered elevator.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity:  There are just over three dozen profanities in the script, including a single sexual expletive 18 terms of deity, 17 scatological curses, and two minor swear words. There are a few uses of a crude term for women and a single use of a vulgar slang term for male genitalia.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character drinks alcohol to celebrate an achievement.

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M3GAN Parents' Guide

Do you think a doll like M3GAN would appeal to all kids or do you think Cady is uniquely vulnerable? Do you think there are risks to toys that can communicate directly with children? 

The social worker warns Gemma that a toy like M3GAN creates a unique problem for children: “If you make a toy that’s impossible to let go of, how do you expect them to grow?” Do you agree that intense attachment to a toy can prevent growth?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Horror flicks about dolls gone rogue are pretty common. Annabelle introduces a murderous china doll, whose macabre activities are followed up in Annabelle Creation and Annabelle Comes Home. Toys are more technologically developed but no less murderous in Child’s Play, which features Chucky, star of his own grisly franchise. A young boy stumbles across a doll in the woods and soon falls under its spell in Brahms: The Boy II. Hired as a nanny, a young woman is astonished to discover that the “child” she has been hired to care for is actually a life-sized doll in The Boy.

If you’re looking for more kid-friendly films about robot or toy friends, there’s a big selection. Of course, the Toy Story franchise leads the way with Woody and Buzz Lightyear coming to the rescue in each instalment. Toy Story 4 breaks new ground with a doll that has her own agenda and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. In a Cold War-era story, The Iron Giant, a massive robot from outer space becomes friends with a young boy. Big Hero 6 features a giant inflatable robot named Hiro who joins forces with the little brother of his dead creator to stop a dastardly villain. Androids are world-dominating villains in The Mitchells vs the Machines.

More mature material about the confusing interactions between androids and people can also provide an interesting watch. After Yang takes a particularly thoughtful look at androids, giving the titular android an important part in a family where he acts as a surrogate older brother: when he malfunctions, the family is thrown into disarray. On a more intimate level, I’m Your Man follows an android who has been programmed to be the perfect romantic partner.