Even without the title of this review, I probably don’t have to spew more than a few words into this piece before you, the reader, will know that The Mitchells vs.The Machines is another good animated movie from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I mean, seriously. Anytime Lord and Miller have explored animated movies, they’ve struck gold. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—all three of these are delightful in their own ways and are arguably some of the best animated movies from the past 15 years, so I had little fear their new feature debuting on Netflix tomorrow would disappoint. It didn’t and the results deliver an intelligent, often hilarious, animated movie that is both relevant and telling when it comes to how most people have become more than dependent on technology these days.
Teenager Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jackson) is about to embark on her first year of film school when her parents (voiced by Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph) decide to embark on a family road trip across the US to take her to school instead of flying her there. Katie and her dad, Rick Mitchell, have butted heads in recent years, with Rick not being familiar with any kind of technology (like many parents these days). So, this road trip is designed to help rekindle the family togetherness that has gradually faded as a result of the family’s (except for the dad) love of technology. As the Mitchell family begins their trip, a software called PAL (voiced by Olivia Coleman) overthrows its creator, Dr. Mark Bowman (voiced by Eric Andre), and then uses the software imbedded in all pieces of technology in combination with newly created robots to take over earth. Before long, the Mitchell family and their dog Monchi (voiced by Doug the Pug) are the last people left to save the world.
While The Mitchells vs. The Machines has more than its share of laughs, they really don’t become very plentiful until the movie’s second act, when the machines start to overtake the universe. There are many references to how people communicate with smart phones, other current technology, popular videos, memes, and filter-like imagery you see on your phone these days. Relying too much on things such devices for laughs to make this animated movie entertaining could have been a big problem, but screenwriters Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe do a good job of balancing out the laughs, family moments, and the overall message the movie offers. Personal highlights including anything involving Monchi, the family dog, and one particular scene involving a popular late-90s toy. When you see it, you’ll know and bust out laughing at how it operates in a machine-controlled world.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines will, without a doubt, be a big hit for Netflix, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the streamer campaign this movie throughout the next awards season. From the beautiful animation to stellar voice cast (highlighted by Danny McBride), the laughs related to today’s society, and overall message, there is plenty for everyone in the family. Lord & Miller once again have hit their mark in the animation department, and while I would have loved to have seen this movie in a theater, I do think it will reach more people on the streamer. If you have no plans this week, buckle up with the family and enjoy. But please, at least try not to be on your phone as much as some of the Mitchells are.