The Mitchells Vs The Machines – Review

THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINESWe’ve probably all had the sense – at some point – that our phones are spying on us or that the machines are about to take over. Colourful and chaotic, The Mitchells Vs The Machines is an animated movie that takes these ideas and runs with them in a way that all the family can enjoy. Directed by Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe, the movie employs a similar animation style to Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.

The movie centres around Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Johnson), an amateur director who has her heart set on a prestigious film college in LA. Getting ready to leave home, she has the distinct feeling that she no longer connects with her parents (voiced by Maya Rudolph and Danny McBride), particularly her dad.

So, when her dad volunteers to drive her to her college, Katie predicts that she’s gearing up for the worst car journey ever. She really just wants to get away from her family. That is until the internet stops working and machines start running the place …

This is a film that works on so many levels. There are plenty of “in jokes” for parents, kids and movie lovers alike. There’s “family time” with everyone on their phones around the dinner table; there’s jokes about big tech companies; and there’s knowing nods to classic movies.

Once the family realise that they must survive the robot apocalypse, a whole bunch of fun ensues. The scenes where people run screaming that they can no longer upload pictures of their dinner to the internet or check in to a specific location are very funny. There are dad jokes about being unable to type or work YouTube. Olivia Colman’s icily voiced PAL (surely a reference to the original bad robot, HAL) is an expertly executed piece of voice work in amongst all of this carnage.

The animation is particularly striking in its vibrancy. Doodles often pop up on the screen whilst characters think and almost everything seems to be awash with neon. At times, it feels like a patchwork of lots of different creative styles, but it does work well in terms of moving the narrative along. Katie’s home made movies are also really good fun to watch – especially for the googly eyed Monchi (voiced by Doug the Pug) in his role as Dog Cop.

The Mitchells Vs The MachinesThe stand out scene, however, has to be the killer Furbies in the mall. Having been terrified of these toys as a child, watching thousands of them laugh and plot the downfall of humankind was quite alarming. And, as Abbi notes as the family seek shelter at the mall, it feels like a scene from Dawn of the Dead or (for younger viewers), Stranger Things.

For me, the action felt a bit repetitive at times. It was a bit go there, fight this, escape that. I don’t think there needed to be quite so many “big fight” sequences as it really dragged the middle portion of the film out. However, I get that it’s a kids movie and not necessarily aimed at me.

At the heart of the film are a couple of (slightly mixed) messages. Is this a film about putting down your phone and appreciating the world around you – and your family – or is this a film about finding a community of like-minded people online? You could argue it was both, but they don’t really gel together as clear cut messages.

With a strong voice cast and a really unique animation style, The Mitchells Vs The Machines will no doubt prove popular family viewing. Just … remember to switch your phone off.

The Mitchells Vs the Machines is now streaming on Netflix. 

Mary Munoz
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