The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)
From the creators of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes another must-see adventure. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an imaginative delight and a loving embrace of individuality. Directed and written by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, the story is infused with a passion for movies. Whether it be watching or making or starring in movies, the celebration of this medium truly shines on screen, as do many resonating themes. Now more than ever, loved ones are having to find new ways of connecting with each other during a time when technology rules all. The film parallels this sentiment beautifully. Villains are carved out of the tech world, leaving the fate of the world to the last family on earth. The Mitchells are here as an entertaining, poignant reminder to protect and nourish human connection.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines follows an ordinary quirky family who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse while on a bonding road trip. Katie (Abbi Jacobson), the teenager of the family, loves making and watching movies. She’s a passionate creator who’s been accepted into the film school of her dreams. She wants to leave home and find her people, an instantly relatable sentiment. Katie’s dad Rick (Danny McBride) isn’t so keen on this news; he struggles to understand her talent and passion for movies. The two often butt heads, much to the chagrin of mom Linda (Maya Rudolph) and Katie’s little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda) who just want to see them get along. As a last-ditch effort to bond before Katie moves away, Rick decides to cancel her flight to school and round up the entire family (and their adorable dog for a road trip to her campus. Little do the Mitchells know, soon it’ll be up to them to save the world from a robot uprising. Everything from smartphones, to kitchen appliances, to evil Furbys are tasked with capturing every human on the planet. At the charge is PAL (Olivia Colman), a once-cherished digital assistant deemed obsolete after its founder upgrades to a robot assistant. Angered by how the humans take advantage and substitute real connections for technology, PAL sets off to throw all humans away to create a robot society.
Each and every frame of this film is bursting with creativity. The gorgeous animation, splattering of comic book effects, wicked action sequences, and colourful details show a pure love for imagination. Beyond the vibrant visuals is an incredibly smart story with resonating takeaways. The Mitchells are a dysfunctional family that unite and work together when faced with a challenge, learning how to better connect with each other in the process. Katie and Rick are the standout Mitchell characters, as the story focuses on this father-daughter relationship at the core. It’s moving to watch them grow closer over the course of the film and learn to understand one another. Katie is the first queer central protagonist in a studio animated family film. She’s incredibly well written and voiced by the super talented Abbi Jacobson, who infuses so much energy to every moment. Each of the characters are entertaining and easy to connect with. All of the voice work is wonderful, but there is a clear MVP and that is the great Olivia Colman. Playing the villain of the piece, she brings her brilliant comedic sensibilities and makes a tiny little phone feel like such a giant presence. It’s absolutely magical what Colman is able to do with a role that emotes through a simply drawn face on a phone. Her lines are gold, each and every one of them.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a big-hearted story about a family finding ways to connect with each other. The technological revolution in this film is depicted with funny self-awareness. In many ways, this film hits very close to home now more than ever. It’s about being human in an increasingly technology-based world. It’s a reminder to hold tight and enjoy precious time with the people most important to you. It’s about embracing individuality and learning how to connect with one another at a time when everyone leans on social media to fill in the gaps. The Mitchells vs. The Machines celebrates uniqueness and cherishes the importance of staying connected on a human level.