The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

The Mitchells vs the Machines
Director: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe
Writer: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe, Alex Hirsch
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien
Seen on: 9.5.2021

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) can’t wait to finally go to film school where she has found nerdy people like her. She will miss her little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda) and her mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), though things are a little more complicated with her father Rick (Danny McBride). When Katie and Rick get into a fight on Katie’s last night, Rick changes their plans to make up for it. To Katie’s horror, he arranges everything to drive the entire family across the country to drop Katie off at college himself. The road trip is tense, and things get even worse when a newly developed robot line gets out of hand and starts to capture all humans. As unlikely as it may seem to all of them, it’s up to the Mitchells to stop the robot apocalypse.

The Mitchells vs the Machines is an extremely well done animated film that had me laughing out loud. The story may be a little predictable, but it has more than enough charm to make up for that.

The film poster showing the Mitchell family in their car, flying through the air, their pug sitting outside on the hood.

Visually, the film hits familiar notes, especially in the character design, but it does mix them up nicely to make them feel fresher. It uses different styles of animation to portray different layers of reality (like Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse), and it uses those elements really well.

Almost the same can be said for the story. The plot is not exactly new and you will probably be able to guess every turn the film takes. But the invests enough time to flesh out its characters and make you care for them, so the familiarity of the plot gets a fresh note. The film just makes the best use of its tropes.

The Mitchell family in their car, screaming.

Plus, the film is outright funny. It is rare that I will laugh out loud at a film when I sit alone at home, but The Mitchells vs the Machines made me laugh more than once. It has excellent comedic timing and just some really wild ideas (the Furbies, holy shit). And again, the characters make a lot of it really special because you just care for them (it is also obvious that Katie is supposed to be queer, though it would have been nice if that had been made explicit as well).

In short, despite a couple of narrative weaknesses, it is a really lovely, fun film that doesn’t veer into luddite arguments despite its topic. I really enjoyed it.

The Mitchell family hiding in a souvenir shop, looking at each other with big eyes.

Summarizing: sweet.

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