The Mitchells vs the Machines
The rise of killer robots is a story that’s entertained viewers for decades, and there’s no doubt that tales about the battle between humanity and technology are still guilty pleasures. Sony Pictures Animation’s The Mitchells vs the Machines takes the beloved dystopian tropes seen in sci-fi classics, mixes in colourful animation, and turns the apocalypse into a fun family experience. It’s a production full of expressive art, quirky details and has a genuine sense of personality that runs through its entirety. However, with constant references to 2010s-style memes and tired comments around wi-fi dependence, for a futuristic film geared towards young children, The Mitchells vs the Machines feels oddly dated.
Written by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, at its core this is a story about a father and daughter overcoming miscommunication and rediscovering their bond (with a few antagonist robots thrown into the mix). Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), a film buff, has a complex relationship with her father (Danny McBride), a technophobe and nature lover. Before she leaves the nest to start film school, the family decides to take one last road trip to mend the pair’s fractured relationship. However, their plans turn disastrous, and they must work together in order to survive some hilarious robots and save humanity from the clutches of a disgruntled app.
There are some stellar moments in the writing: the jokes that land are strong, the father-daughter relationship relatable and the overall plot progression solid. Where The Mitchell’s vs the Machines falters is in its bid to try and engage the younger audience. With overly explanatory monologues that slow the pace, references to Nyan cat and odd intercuts with old Internet videos, the film seems to be appealing more to millennial parents than their children. That being said, it is still enjoyable, and its animation is distinctive. The world feels alive, and the characters incredibly charming. Similarly, the outstanding array of talent in the voiceover cast perfectly complements the generally over-the-top and expressive visual style.
The Mitchells vs the Machines is a film full of character; it’s a bit rough around the edges but gives enough to keep viewers engaged if they can get past the old references. The fun and somewhat nostalgic feeling it brings makes for an excellent watch for science fiction fans to share with their children.
The Mitchells vs the Machines is released on Netflix on 30th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Mitchells vs the Machines here: