Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Blake Griffin, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Conan O’Brien, Sasheer Zamata, Elle Mills, Jay Pharoah, Alex Hirsch and Griffin McElroy
A Robot apocalypse put the brakes on their cross-country road trip. Now it’s up to the Mitchell’s, the world’s weirdest family, to save the human race.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an animated action-comedy about an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of their biggest family challenge yet…saving the world from the robot apocalypse. No big deal, right?
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a Sony Pictures Animation film that is set for release on Netflix this weekend, produced by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, and directed by Mike Rianda, making his directorial feature debut, and Jeff Lowe co-directing. We follow the Mitchell family, where their daughter Katie is set to leave the household after being accepted into the film school of her dreams. Eager to leave and find ‘her people’, her nature-loving dad Rick insists on having the whole family drive her to school and bond during one last road trip. But when the trip can’t get any worse, the family suddenly finds itself in the middle of the robot uprising! Everything from smart phones to evil Furbys are employed to capture every human on the planet. Now it’s up to the Mitchells, including mum Linda, brother/son Aaron, and their squishy pug Monchi, and two friendly but simple-minded robots, to save humanity.
The thing that immediately strikes you about the film is its use of animation and the visual styles, combining 3D and 2D textures in plenty of sequences, such as moments of sketches and drawings appearing on screen to capture a characters thought or emotion. The colour palette choices for certain scenes really make it pop, and what really makes it all come together is the energy and pacing we see here. It’s hyper-kinetic, and moves at such a fast-paced that I wouldn’t be surprised that audiences will rewatch this film a couple of times and catch little uses of animation that they missed upon their initial viewing as there is a lot to adsorb here at times. That’s what made me really enjoy the film, I absolutely adored its animation and Sony Pictures Animation are showing how Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse isn’t a one-off from them. There’s a lot of gags that are thrown at you and while there are some that don’t quite land, there’s a lot more hits for me here, one of which involving a scene involving bloody Furby’s, of all things, and the Furby overlord that had me in stitches. It’s a completely random yet effective sequence and one of my favourite scenes from the film. While the story involves The Mitchells having to save the planet from the robot apocalypse, it primarily focuses on the father/daughter relationship between Katie and Rick and it definitely provides the heart and emotional elements of the film. The two have a somewhat complicated relationship, clashing over certain things that leads to Katie eagerly awaiting moving out to go to film school, while Rick is fearful of this change and not having enough time left to spend with her that he orchestrates this road trip. The film takes its time to equally share both of their points of view, and I thought it was very well-handled.
I also enjoyed the outlook that the film portrays on technology and the over-reliance on it, as well as conveying different points of view in relation to it, with Rick believing it to be a distraction from real-life, and Katie believing that it can help her unleash her creativity and express herself. The voice cast are terrific in their roles, with Abbi Jacobson voicing Katie, Danny McBride voicing Rick, Maya Rudolph voicing Linda and director Mike Rianda voicing Katie’s brother Aaron. Other notable voice performances come from Fred Armisen and Beck Bennett as two robots that get damaged and end up joining the Mitchells on their quest to save humanity, providing some laughs along the way, and Olivia Colman voicing PAL is an inspired casting choice. If I were to nitpick the film, I would say it’s about ten-fifteen minutes too long, and outside of young Aaron, the Mitchells are not as weird as Katie claims them to be.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a thoroughly entertaining film, with wild energy, bursting with creative animation and featuring a great voice cast, solidifying itself as a contender already for best animated film come next years awards season.