‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ Review: Eccentric Family Meets Apocalypse

Official poster. Via Netflix.

What do you get when you mash up a family with an anti-tech father, a tech-savvy, aspiring filmmaker daughter, a damage-control diplomatic mother, a seven-year-old obsessive paleontologist, and a bizarre pug, then pit them against an army of sentient rogue AI robots? The odds of that reality—such a motley crew of eccentrics existing together as a family unit in that scenario—are exciting, yet low, but this is the premise of Mike Rianda’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines. To answer the question, what you get is a 1h 53m comedy fest that opens and ends expectedly, yet surprises with its overwhelming warmth.

The Mitchells. Via Netflix.

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) is off to college where she believes she will have more freedom and would find a suitable audience to appreciate her artistic expressions. On the other end of the ring is her father, Rick (Danny McBride), who is overprotective of his family and his ideals, and who finds both elements constantly clashing. Linda (Maya Rudolph), serves as the umpire and diplomatic consultant on familial emotional matters. Father and daughter clash on the eve of her resumption at college, and to assuage and connect with her one last time, Rick cancels her flight and proposes a week-long road trip to Katie’s college. While en route, a robot apocalypse comes upon the human race, and the fate of the world suddenly rests on the eccentric shoulders of the Mitchell family.

The zany movie sells itself from the first minute. Beyond its outlandish animation and music, the movie solidifies itself as a genuinely funny entry into the narrative trope of movies like Inside Out—coming-of-age with a dash of family drama. With Danny McBride as Rick, the movie has a comedy champion adept at delivering punchlines appropriately with attention to timing and precision. Danny McBride’s voice and intonation are unmistakable. Katie’s brother, Aaron (Mike Rianda), voiced by the director, does sound like an adult man and, interestingly, that only makes him sound funnier. To mention the innumerable small jokes and puns will be impossible. And with the arcs that the story peaks at various times, The Mitchells vs. the Machines has already set itself into the hall of fame of great animated movies. 

Rating: 8/10

Side Musings

  • The animation is utterly gorgeous. The ingenuity rests in the fact that the cheeky feel is a nod to Katie as meta director of the film. 
  • When Linda goes Momzilla on those robots, it is difficult not to have thought “man, shit is about to get real”.
  • The Posey family is a straightforward pun that is both brilliant and funny, because the family is quite specious. 

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is currently streaming on Netflix.

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