The Mitchells vs. the Machines vs. Pleasing the Masses

Despite borrowing from the likes of past works I’ve enjoyed, this animated film shines with its kinetic production design.

MitchellsMachinesPoster.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available on Netflix 

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is certainly a very colourful and crazy mixed media movie about a not so normal family. Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is about to leave the nest. She’s an artist and a videographer. Her love for theatrics (aka storytelling) is something her dad doesn’t get. He refused to take challenges and was unadaptable. He’s hilariously sad since staying up to date is as foreign to him as kids of today are to punch card technology.

Even the younger brother Aaron (Mike Rianda) is odd. He loves dinosaurs, which is typical for any lad, and is obsessive as Hudson Harper from Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar. Linda (Maya Rudolph), her mom, is about the only voice of reason to keep the clan together. The family dynamics are at the heart of why this film is adorable. This oddball clan is just that, and honestly, it’s Munch the dog who steals the show. This exotropia and bug eyed pug is very familiar tho’, and when I’ve seen a whole ton of animated shows, it’s easy to see what series Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and the writing crew picked from when creating this film.

The concept of another movie (or tv series) about a young heroine trying to become independent despite having duties to the family is nothing new. Just how different generations get along can be figured out in various ways, and in how this film excels is in showing that they’re much closer than they realize.

However, when a robot apocalypse is happening as this family embarks on a road trip, just when the Mitchells can bond is amusing. It’s because of a smartphone app turning into Skynet and it was designed at PAL labs—a cross of Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. This company is a hilarious poke at reality. The AI makes pointed facts about humanity’s reliance on tech and never truly disconnecting (in contrast to the family trying to connect). 

Movie Review: 'The Mitchells vs. the Machines'

Even two of PAL labs robotic minions desert their post since they were damaged. Their comedy act isn’t too over the top, but to add them to a very busy film is really unneeded. I’ve seen their routine in a certain del Toro animation. 

Despite borrowing from the likes of past works I’ve enjoyed, namely Tales of Arcadia: 3Below, The Incredibles and The Lego Movie, this animated film shines with its kinetic production design. The visual style is right up there with Into the Spider Verse and that’s because these producers have worked on those films too.

This movie is also one not likely to get a sequel. It’s tough to top near perfection for a quality entertainment package with a meaningful message. Families matter the most over technology, and it’s okay to give some forms of tech two legs so they can run errands when needed, instead of the other way around.

4 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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