The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a 2021 computer-animated family film that is streaming on Netflix, and since I’ve been hearing about it for over a year, I was excited to check it out.
See, the film was originally called “Connected ” and it was going to be released theatrically by Sony in 2020. When the theaters started closing for the pandemic, it got shelved, then sold to Netflix, which released it in May 2021.
The movie centers on the dysfunctional Mitchell family (hence the new title), as film prodigy daughter Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is set to leave home to go to film school and follow her dreams.
She often clashes with her nature-obsessed and technophobic father Rick (Danny McBride), and their relationship is further tested when he accidentally breaks her laptop the night before she leaves.
Worried this might strain their already tenuous bond, he decides to cancel Katie’s flight and instead take her, along with her mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), younger brother Aaron (Mike Rianda), and dog Monchi (who is based on social media star Doug the Pug), on a cross-country road trip to her college as one last bonding experience.
At the same time, tech big wig Mark Bowman (Eric Andre) drops a new AI from his company, which features robots. The original AI named PAL (Olivia Colman) is a Siri-alike who takes huge offense at suddenly becoming obsolete. As an act of revenge, PAL takes over Mark’s company, ordering all the robots to capture humans worldwide.
What starts out as a potential animated Griswolds road adventure, actually turns more insane as somehow The Mitchells evade capture and become the only humans left on Earth to fight off the robot invasion.
The film is funny and irreverent with lots of pop culture references (I always thought Furbys were creepy) for the adults and lots of sight gags for the kids. I expected it to be good, since it was produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are best known for directing and writing the animated films Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and The Lego Movie (2014).
But the movie is bolstered by a great script by Jeff Lowe and movie MVP Mike Rianda, who in addition to voicing Aaron and several minor characters, also directed the movie. Mister Many-Hats, I salute you!
Not to mention the talented voice cast which also includes Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, and Conan O’Brien.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is an extremely enjoyable film with dual messages about the bonds of family and about embracing your weirdness as a strength. I also appreciated how the film handled its LGBTQ representation, just matter-of-factly instead of using stereotypes.
It’s a great film, no matter what your age.
I’m giving The Mitchells vs. the Machines a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES (2021)
Director: Mike Rianda
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien
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