The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021) Review
FAMILY values are learnt and put to the test in The Mitchells vs The Machines; an animated adventure brimming with flair, whimsy and a surprising amount of heart between the family of four (and a dog).
After achieving her childhood dream of being accepted into film school, Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is ecstatic at the thought of moving away from her family, including nature-obsessed father, Rick (Danny McBride), encouraging mother, Linda (Maya Rudolph), introverted little brother, Aaron, (Michael Rianda) and their bread-shaped pug, Monchi. But as she's about to leave, Rick organises a surprise family road trip as a final goodbye to his eccentric daughter, which just so happens to corollate with a robotic uprising, leaving the Mitchells as the only people on Earth who can stop the machines once and for all.
A merry band of family members attempting to save the world is hardly a new concept, but The Mitchells vs The Machines takes this tried-and-tested story and does a tremendous job with it. Each Mitchell feels important to the film's progression either emotionally or literally, with even Monchi the Pug being a major player during the absurdly-entertaining climax.
Much like Sony Pictures Animation's previous successes The LEGO Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs The Machines is an emotional rollercoaster at its core, and despite being a little on the nose, its messages can relate to anyone and are delivered in a genuinely-emotional manner through the superb and authentic father-daughter relationship between Katie and Rick Mitchell.
Having grown up in the digital age, Katie is obsessed with filmmaking and is determined to make a living off her passion. However, Rick questions whether she is able to financially-prosper in her dream, leaving the two in a disharmonic state as Rick continually wishes he could understand his daughter's aspirations and hopes she could be like the Katie of old; a young girl reliant on the love and support of her father, all while Katie wants her dad to take notice and support her life-long aspiration.
The reason this dynamic works so well is because neither side is presented as being "the bad guy", with Katie and Rick both exhibiting good and bad behaviours throughout the film, all of which is showcased through emotionally-supercharged moments of love and affection until their inevitable reconciliation during the finale.
Michael Rianda's directorial debut immediately caught the eyes of viewers with its charming and unique style of animation. While there are plenty of animated films that feature beautiful animation, The Mitchells vs The Machines uses it to further push the tone of the film as Katie's passion for art is continually expressed through hand-drawn images popping up to fit the situation such as hearts forming and breaking next to a character to accentuate their emotional standpoint, and explosions and lightning used to further enhance action sequences similar to Spider-Man: Into the Verse which presented itself in a comic-book-style to harken back to the franchise's textualized origins.
Although the climax lingers a little too long and the villain, voiced by Olivia Coleman, could've been developed further to give it a proper personality, The Mitchells vs The Machines still stands as a testament to what animated films should be: a love-letter to its median while also presenting itself in a unique, beautiful manner. If you're looking for a heart-warming comedy that the entire family can relate to, Sony Pictures Animation's latest masterpiece is an easy recommendation that will remain relevant for years to come.