The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Movie Review

TL;DR – A blast from start to finish

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, but like a lot of work went into the credits, and there are some snippets of stuff here and there.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this movie info here

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Image Credit: Netflix.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines Review

For the longest time, Sony Animation was this studio that shows immense potential, but they always seemed to be chasing trends, which never led them to make anything that stood out. The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs showed they had potential, but then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out of nowhere and exploded onto the screen. Now, Sony Animation was setting the trends, and it made me wonder where can they go next. Well, today, we get to see that with the charmingly odd The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

So to set the scene, the Mitchells are your standard quirky/dysfunctional family heading towards their first major crisis. As time has gone on, father Rick (Danny McBride) and daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) have become equally frustrated with each other, and no amount of work from mum Linda (Maya Rudolph) and brother Aaron (Mike Rianda) can fix this divide. However, Katie is about to go across the country to college, and if she leaves while the relationship is still broken, well, that could be irreparable damage. Well then, the family decides to make one last-ditch effort to fix the unfixable by going on a long road trip to drop Katie off at college, on the same week that techbro Mark Browman (Eric Andre) of PAL Labs inadvertently starts a robot invasion after upsetting his AI PAL (Olivia Colman).   

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Image Credit: Netflix.
Look I am a sucker for things like this. Image Credit: Netflix.

There is a lot to talk about this film, but I want to start by looking at its energy. This is one of those films where you could pause it at almost every moment, and there would be details all throughout the frame for you to explore. We’re not just crashing the car; we are slamming the car through a window … after going through a ball pit while being chased by robots shooting at us. Other filmmakers who go for this style of consistently upping the energy in every shot often come off as cluttered. Here, every moment has been crafted to know when to throw cheer chaos on the screen and when to hold back and let the moment sit. This ability to control the energy of the film brings you in and makes you cheer for the characters.

You bond with the characters right from the start because not only do they fall into that “quirky/oddball” zone that works for a film like this. More so, the central dilemma in this family is not fantastical but a problem grounded in reality. Katie does not understand all the sacrifices that Rick has made to help her get where she is. But on the flip side, Rick does not understand the world Katie is living in and does not want to put in the work to understand. It is a divide that starts small and then becomes a chasm if you let it continue. By taking a very fantastical premise but grounding it in a real issue that affects families across the world, you create a juxtaposition that is perfect for a film like this.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Image Credit: Netflix.
It is the family’s story that draws you in. Image Credit: Netflix.

It is also helped by every single actor giving a simply delightful performance. Watching Olivia Colman get her villain on was simply a joy to see. Beck Bennett and Fred Armisen are perfect as comic-relief-damaged robots that help the family out. Then there is the family anchored by duelling performances from Abbi Jacobson and  Danny McBride. If it were just them feuding, this film would not have worked, but Maya Rudolph and Mike Rianda also met that same intensity as peacemakers and also agents of chaos themselves in parts.

One of the things you see right from the start is how it incorporates two different animation styles almost seamlessly. You have the stylised 3d animation of all the characters and world but is then augmented by this layer of 2d effects. This layered technique was also used in Spiderverse, but there it was, layering the real-world and the comic-world, here it is layering the real-world with Katie’s personal filmmaking quirks. Not only does this create a unique world, but it also helps bring you into what makes the character tick, her creative process. It also leads to some of the funniest parts of the film.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Image Credit: Netflix.
The real MVP. Image Credit: Netflix.

It is also helped by every single actor giving a simply delightful performance. Watching Olivia Colman get her villain on was simply a joy to see. Beck Bennett and Fred Armisen are perfect as comic-relief-damaged robots that help the family out. Then there is the family anchored by duelling performances from Abbi Jacobson and  Danny McBride. If it were just them feuding, this film would not have worked, but Maya Rudolph and Mike Rianda also met that same intensity as peacemakers and also agents of chaos themselves in parts.

One of the things you see right from the start is how it incorporates two different animation styles almost seamlessly. You have the stylised 3d animation of all the characters and world but is then augmented by this layer of 2d effects. This layered technique was also used in Spiderverse, but there it was, layering the real-world and the comic-world, here it is layering the real-world with Katie’s personal filmmaking quirks. Not only does this create a unique world, but it also helps bring you into what makes the character tick, her creative process. It also leads to some of the funniest parts of the film.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched The Mitchells vs. The Machines?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
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Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Directed by
– Mike Rianda & Jeff Rowe
Written by – Mike Rianda & Jeff Rowe
Music by – Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography by
Edited by – Greg Levitan
Production/Distribution Companies – Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Lord Miller Productions, One Cool Films & Netflix
Starring – Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Conan O’Brien, Charlyne Yi, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Blake Griffin, Sasheer Zamata, Elle Mills, Alex Hirsch, Jay Pharoah & Doug the Pug   
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: U; United States: PG

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