The Mitchells vs. the Machines movie review: the robo-apocalypse can entertain

The pandemic has forced a number of movie studios to take their projects to streaming services to reach an audience. Disney has its premieres on the Disney+ service; Coming 2 America made an impact on Amazon Prime; now we have a truly underrated animated movie from Sony’s studio on Netflix for all to enjoy. But don’t let the streaming format fool you – The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a big-screen delight for all ages to enjoy.

Directed by Mike Rianda and produced by the Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Mitchells takes the robot apocalypse theme and has a field day with it, thanks to an unlikely villain who’s a laugh riot – and the surprise heroes who do much more than chuckle.

Those heroes are the Mitchells, a goofball family led by not-so-super dad Rick (Danny McBride). His daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is looking to take her YouTube filmmaking career to the next level with college, but her father Rick opts to take her there via a road trip across the country, with her mother Linda (Maya Rudolph) and her younger brother Aaron (Rianda, superb in the role) along for the ride.

But it’s just when they start their road trip that the robots start acting up. And it’s all thanks to a cell phone-like device called PAL, voiced by Hot Fuzz’s own Olivia Colman. She’s fed up with being a hand-me-down in the face of a new PAL device, which tech whiz Mark Bowman (Eric Andre, fresh from his Adult Swim show) has introduced. So what’s a forgotten device to do? Lead the robots against the humans and try to eradicate them, of course.

So much is working for The Mitchells vs. the Machines that it’s not even funny – though it is hilarious. First off, the writing is superb, and there’s a number of Easter eggs. So many, in fact, you’ll have to watch the movie two to three times to catch them all – and you still might miss something. It’s also got some wonderful action sequences for a family film (how many times can you say that?), including a run-in with an enlarged Furby that’s a sight to behold. You might just find it to be the best movie sequence with a Furby ever. (I believe it’s the only one…?)

On top of that, the animation style is insanely good. Along with top-notch animation and other neat little effects, the movie also benefits from sweet hand-drawn designs stemming from Katie’s brain, so you get a look at just how she perceives everything. It’s original and really well done, and gives the movie a little more shine.

Not to mention the music. It’s loaded with upbeat, delightful pop tunes, but also features a killer score by DEVO co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh. And he’s very well up for the job – so much, in fact, that he probably should see what films he can work on next. If it’s possible, Lord and Miller might want to consider him for the Spiderverse sequel. Just saying.

Finally, The Mitchells vs. the Machines wins with its voice cast. Abbi Jacobson is great fun as Katie. The rest of the family is fun as well, and it’s great to hear Fred Armisen and Beck Bennett joining the fun as a pair of unconvertable robots. There’s also Blake Griffin, Chrissy Tiegen, and Conan O’Brien if you listen closely enough.

And Michael had something special to say about Danny McBride as well, since this isn’t his usual territory. “performances in the movie for me was Danny McBride as Rick Mitchell. While I deeply appreciate McBride’s acting style and on-screen antics, Rick Mitchell seemed like an odd casting choice from him from his typical roles. Examples would be like Your Highness, Pineapple Express, and This is the End just to name a few. Those are only a few examples of his prior roles but give you a good feel for his acting style but he made Rick Mitchell his own and did an amazing job bringing thia character to life. Not just by playing a fatherly figure but the depth of how far he went into character. You’ll see it or you’ve seen it, when you watch. I don’t want to spoil some of his best lines in the movie but you’ll know them when you hear them.

But, to me, the real star of the show is Colman. She’s a laugh riot as the fed-up PAL, making all sorts of great points about technology while still somehow being incredibly ruthless. This is easily one of her best performances.

Oh. And Michael also wanted to add: “Least not we forget the trusty, loyal animal pet/sidekick, Munchie the pug. They DID NOT disappoint! We can’t go into to much detail without giving away some of the best parts of the movie but the shenanigans entailed just add to the viewing pleasure and overall hilarity.” I definitely agree.

Even if you’re not up for traditional family fare, not to worry. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is anything but. It’s filled with hilarious moments, as well as heartfelt stuff that helps you feel the connection with family. Not to mention it has thrilling animation, excellent music and truly amazing style that other few films can match. You may be thrown off by the fact it’s on a “streaming channel,” but don’t be. These Mitchells provide big summer entertainment, and you shouldn’t miss it. Now put down that phone.

RATING: 9/10

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