Movie over, Chucky. You’ve got competition.
BQB here with a review of the latest killer doll movie.
When I saw the trailer for this movie late last year, I thought it looked stupid. In fact, when the trailer said it was coming out the first week in January I thought, “Yeah this seems about right for a January movie.” January, after all, is a notorious dumping ground for Hollywood’s worst schlock. All the kids have gone back to school. All the adults have gone back to work. Everyone is focused on getting the new year started and only a handful of brave cinephiles are willing to go to the theaters so early in the year.
But then the reviews came in. All positive. Suddenly “Megan” was popping up everywhere. After a Megan sketch on Jimmy Fallon, followed by a Megan sketch on SNL, I said OK, I need to see what all the hullabaloo is about, so I sucked it up and paid the $20 rental fee to watch it on my TV.
#1 – It is better than expected and deserved more of a March placement than its January parking spot.
#2 – It is not as good as the hype suggests but few hyped up movies ever live up to the hype. It’s a decent flick but not really the gamechanger that all the latest pop cultural homages would suggest.
The plot? Gemma (Allison Williams who, no matter what she does, how many Oscars she wins, how many breakout roles she snags, will forever be known as the chick who got her butt eaten on the HBO series Girls) plays Gemma, a robot scientist employed by a toy company, under intense pressure by her dickish boss David (Ronny Cheng) to develop a toy robot that will rake in boku buck-a-roos.
Gemma’s been working on M3gan, a creepily close to real life child’s doll for years, but the company wants her to focus her energy on a cheapy, easy to produce furry little line of toys that say silly things and make fart noises. Kids do love fart noises after all.
Blah blah blah. Gemma cuts some corners and rushes her M3gan bot out believing it is the big thing that will make her career. Coincidentally, her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) ends up in her care when her parents die just in time for her to become a test playmate for M3gan.
At first, M3gan seems like a real winner – i.e. the friend that every kid wants. The friend that has your back no matter what, always plays the games you want to play, doesn’t make fun of you, doesn’t gossip about you and always stands up for you.
Eh, but the problem is that the Megster takes her duty to protect Cady way too seriously. Suddenly, everyone who so much as looks at Cady cross-eyed ends up deep-sixed and slowly but surely, Gemma suspects her creation is to blame.
It’s fun. It’s a good time. For me, it was worth the 20 dollar rental but then again, I did make a whopping 36 bucks in self published novel sales last year, so I can totes afford a superfluous movie rental. If you’re asking me if it is worth a rental or a trip to the theater, I’d say yes but eh, I could also say it’s not quite up to the hype so feel free to wait till it is on your favorite streamer.
Personally, I think the film’s chief villain is not Megan but the PG-13 rating. I have a hunch that Hollywood was trying to make a movie that would largely appeal to the teenage Tik Tok crowd. The trailer was full of wacky Megan dances and other scenes that are popular on social media but don’t play that large of a role in the actual movie itself. The PG 13 rating hooked a youthful audience but alas, fans of gory horror will be disappointed because the rating prevents Megan from racking up a high kill count, and her methods are far less bloody.
In other words, Chucky’s crown as the murderous doll who spouts off swear laden jokes while he savagely murders his prey in the most horrific, disgusting, deranged and yes, sadly, often humorous ways, is safe. Megan just doesn’t have a chance at dethroning the Chuckster until Hollywood is willing to let her have an R rating.
(SIDNOTE: Maybe it is because I am seeing this movie as an adult whereas I first saw Chucky as a kid but Chucky is just way scarier to me. Chucky is a serial killer who put his soul into a doll via voodoo after being shot by the police while on the run and now his goal is to kidnap a kid and put his soul into the kid so he can be alive again. Also he is a sadistic serial killer so he delights in murder. Meanwhile, Megan is more of a malfunctioning appliance. You just wonder why someone doesn’t just smack her with a baseball bat and throw her in a closet until the repairman stops by.)
(DOUBLE SIDENOTE: The film did a good job of bringing Megan to life. They could have relied solely on CGI and it would have been just a glorified, cheesy cartoon. Though I am not a filmmaker so I don’t know for sure, I get the impression that they used a combination of CGI, puppetry, and a kid actor in a Megan costume to provide a more realistic approach.)
(TRIPLE SIDENOTE: As old folks who saw the original Child’s Play when it came out will tell you, the scares came not at first from Chucky but from the mystery/suspense. Throughout the flick, there’s a question of whether Chucky is really killing everyone or perhaps it is coincidence or maybe Andy is a homicidal little psychopath but then when the scene comes where Andy’s mother threatens to throw Chucky into a fire if he doesn’t reveal himself and he does, coming out of the gate swearing and stabbing, holy crap, you really want to crap your pants. Here, you pretty much know from the start the doll will be a killer.)
(QUADRUPLE SIDENOTE: Whereas Chucky meant to do his kid buddy Andy harm, Megan wants to do harm to everyone who might, and I stress a big might, do her BFF Cady harm. So in a way, she’s somewhat of a noble killer doll in that she’s trying to protect her kid pal, though her programming doesn’t understand nuance or morality or the Christian concept of turning the other cheek or that if everyone murdered everyone who slightly offended them, the entire world would be dead. There is an underlying lesson about absentee parenting i.e. Aunt Gemma sways back and forth between seeing Cady as a blessing and a burden, the joy of having a child vs. the cramp it puts in her career goals. Megan is less of a kid bot and more of a killer Mama Bear in a kid bot’s body and even makes the case to Gemma that you can be a superstar at your job, or you can be a parent, but rare is the person that can do both, so you have to decide early in life whether you want to be a parent or have an impressive career because rare is the person who can pull off both.)
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Storywise, there’s a lot to ponder here. We all long for a true friend, but ultimately, we want the perfect friend, the friend who knows exactly what we want and caters to our every whim and says and does the right thing at all times. Such perfection only comes with silicone and micro-chips. Alas, if we can accept our imperfections and the imperfections of others, there are plenty of friends out there to be had. Even so, you have to learn to understand your best friend is yourself, so try to be a better friend to yourself, because I don’t know about you, but for most people, the number of friends who are there for you through thick and thin can be counted on the fingers on your left hand if you’re lucky.