From the humans that brought you Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a 2021 animated sci-fi comedy film directed by Mike Rianda, written by Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe, produced by Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Lord Miller Productions, and One Cool Films, and distributed by Netflix. The film stars Abbi Jacobson and Danny McBride. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature, but did not win.
"We all want to be the perfect family. But who's perfect, right?" -Katie Mitchell
The Mitchells have always been an outcast family. And their daughter, Katie, cannot wait to escape from the weirdness of her family. When her dad decides to go on one last road trip all the way to film school, the Mitchells are faced with a challenge when the robot apocalypse happens, capturing every single human on the planet. The Mitchells manage to escape the robots, but now, it's up to them to save humanity from the machines.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a pretty fun ride. Originally titled Connected, this film is definitely up there with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Goosebumps. It's not quite on the level of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but it's still quite good.
My favorite thing about this film is the way that everything pays off. There are tons of moments set up throughout the film, and they all come into play in the finale. Any little quirk that the Mitchells have or a tradition that they used that was rejected by Katie or by her father is revisited in the ending of the movie and used to fight off the robots. Throughout the entire final battle, I had a smile on my face.
The film also does a great job of combining stereotypes. We have a screen-ager, a weird little brother, a nature-obsessed father, and a motherly mother. The script allows all of the characters to flaunt their personality inside of their stereotypes. It makes the film really fun to watch because all of the characters are fun in their own way.
The movie can be pretty funny at times. It uses technology as the launchpad for all of the comedy. There are so many things you can do with that, and it's explored to perfection throughout the film. The film isn't a non-stop roller coaster of laughs, but that makes the comedy even funnier when it does come. They timing is impeccable, which is why I like it so much.
The family bond between the Mitchells is also great. As a family, they have a great character arc. They are that weird family from across the street, but they are very relatable and capture the struggles of a dysfunctional family perfectly. The screwed-up relationships between all of them makes for some emotional moments when you think those relationships are fixed. I love it when movies can blend humor and comedy well, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines does that.
The film also has some very fun sequences. Especially the one in the mall. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. It uses all these things from real life as a really fun set piece in these action scenes. I really enjoyed that aspect.
I don't have a lot of problems with the movie. But I do have a couple of relatively important things.
The first is that I don't think it's structured very well. The first act takes up half of the film, and the second and third act are somewhat blended together. There is a big boss battle that feels like it should be part of the finale...but it takes place in the middle of the film. It's a super fun action scene, but I don't think that it helps with the structure.
Secondly, the film definitely breaks its own rules. Now, this is an animated film about a dysfunctional family that has to save the world from a bunch of robots, but even a ludicrous idea like that has to have some set of rules inside its own universe. And The Mitchells vs. the Machines does sometimes break its own rules. They will randomly introduce abilities that the characters have that were never present before. And that can pull you out of the magic of the movie.
I also think that the voice actor for the little boy was not right at all. He has this weird, deep, nasally voice that is jarring every time you hear him talk. He should sound like a 10-year-old kid, but instead, he sounds like a teenage nerd that is hitting puberty and adjusting to a voice change.
Finally, I wasn't a huge fan of the villain. I don't think her motivation to destroy the entire human population was remotely justified. She doesn't have enough time to be developed and I think that her character as a whole was relatively annoying.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines delivers on fun, comedy, and emotion, even though it does having some patches that aren't covered up.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 5+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"The Mitchells vs. the Machines"
Fun Factor: 8/10
Directed by Mike Rianda
Rated PG for animated violence and action, disturbing images
Released on April 30, 2021
1 hour and 53 minutes
Abbi Jacobson as Katie Mitchell
Danny McBride as Rick Mitchell
Maya Rudolph as Linda Mitchell
Mike Rianda as Aaron Mitchell
Olivia Colman as PAL
Eric André as Mark
Beck Bennett as Eric, PAL Max Robots
Fred Armisen as Deborahbot 5000