The Mitchells Vs. the Machines Review: A heartwarmingly hilarious animated family road trip for the ages
While it originally was meant to be the next big animated theatrical release from producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Sony has brought The Mitchell’s Vs. the Machines to Netflix to deliver one of the best movies of the year.
The film takes viewers on a road trip for the ages with the wild and weird Mitchell family as Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), the oldest child, is gearing up to head out on her own by going across the country to college to get away from her father Rick (voiced by Danny McBride). The two never see eye to eye as Rick constantly criticizes his family for their tech obsession and casts doubt Katie when it comes to her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Before Katie leaves though, Rick makes one last attempt to connect with Katie through a family road trip to her California college that suddenly gets derailed as a robot apocalypse suddenly occurs. Now needing each other more than ever, the Mitchells are forced to try and save the world in their own weird way.
It’s clear that Lord and Miller have a keen eye for uniquely animated films since they’re constantly producing animated films unlike anything else. With them being behind the LEGO Movie films as well as Into the Spider-Verse, these two clearly look for animated flicks with an ambitious style and The Mitchells Vs. the Machines is a testament to that. On the surface, the film looks like any sort of modern 3-D animated film, but it’s visually elevated through how hand-drawn notebook styled 2-D animation is blended into the action and personality of the film and its titular family.
This added 2-D animation is really what gives this film life as seeing things like Katie’s freakout about the road trip be elevated through an atom-bomb like explosion of anguish or “The Rick Mitchell Special” come with its own glorious title slate gives them this hilarious energy. Even seeing little moments like Katie and her dinosaur-obsessed little brother Aaron (voiced by Michael Rianda) have their raptor handshake come with adorable little raptor animation pop up or a hilarious cut to an animal safety slate when their donkey tour hits a snag and sees one donkey floating downstream really leaves a memorable impact. There are even some little animated additions to the action like in Into the Spider-Verse and it really adds this great energy into everything in the film. It’s even a style that’s incredibly fitting for Katie given the zany and weird artistic flair her film’s have and the film almost feels like one that she made.
Like her films, The Mitchells Vs. the Machines is endlessly hilarious. The Mitchell family is definitely an odd bunch, but a group that constantly provides laughs. Aaron’s inability to talk to a neighbor girl that share the same love of dinosaurs is hilarious. McBride’s voice for Rick is perfect casting at its finest and his interactions with Katie are always funny. There are these two defective robots that eventually join the family named Eric (voiced by Beck Bennett) and Deborahbot 5000 (voiced by Fred Armisen) that quickly warm your heart and make you laugh non-stop. The real comedy star is family dog Monchi as his strange look becomes a remarkably hilarious part to how the Mitchells turn the tables on the robots and you can’t help but smile whenever the film cuts to him. Honestly, the film just has a great way of giving everyone their own hilarious moments and poking fun at different generations. It utilizes things like memes, being technologically inept, and tech obsessions in ways that everyone can enjoy and works to create a heartwarming family plot.
Between its endless supply of gut-busting hilarity, the film carries a really great story about coming together and working past each other’s flaws and frustrations. It’s great how both Aaron and Linda (voiced by Maya Rudolph), the Mitchell family matriarch, act as this bridge between Katie and Rick’s feuding and try to help them see eye to eye. The issues in their relationships and their weird family quirks are super relatable and it’s great to see these qualities come together in a way that makes them special and able to overcome the robot apocalypse. The film also reaches its moments of rockiness and resolution in unique ways with how the Mitchells have to come together in the end and it makes the film’s messaging about being unique, putting family first, and never forgetting good memories really impactful and emotional. It’s the perfect kind of family film and I dare even say that with time it could easily be seen as a modern animated masterpiece for both its animation and storytelling.
The Mitchells Vs. the Machines could easily end up giving Lord and Miller their second Oscar with its innovative animation, incredibly hilarious voice cast, and heartwarming story of family coming together to create an early top contender for the year.