Aronne Ibarra’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sony Animation is having an unprecedented resurgence, and I am so here for it. The Mitchells vs. The Machines, from the looks of it, was a film I did not expect to love so much-- the idea of the world's fate from a robot apocalypse lying on the hands of a weird family was something I was prepared to dislike coming in. But never ever judge a book by its cover. Great fun and surprisingly dense, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a new favorite discovery of mine.
The Mitchells are an odd bunch. Katie is a daughter whose passion is making schlocky homemade movies; she hopes to get into a film school, and she does. Aaron is a socially-awkward young boy obsessed with dinosaurs. Linda is their mother, trying her best to mold the family into a "perfect one" that she thinks her neighbors are. And Rick is the father and he is a boomer. He loves the outdoors and he hates phones and doesn't know how to use them. These are the Mitchells, a perfectly imperfect family.
In imperfection we find real humanity. And through imperfect pieces struggling but perpetually trying to complete the puzzle we see what a real family is. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one of the best family films out there. Although it’s not exactly original, it feels fresh because of its sincerity. The family portrait in the film highlights the individuality of each member, the road trip sees them overcome the challenge of understanding and living with each other, and the threat of a robot apocalypse is a reminder of our humanity and the importance of authentic emotional interaction and connection in the digital age.
We are imperfect and life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows; but in letting each other grow and living for these moments of pure humanity, we can find the best version of ourselves. We are weak and flawed, but in our collective suffering and triumph, we human beings are surely worth saving in the event of a robot apocalypse.
At its center is a realistic, and emotional father-daughter bond. Katie and Rick’s arcs remind me of Flint and his father’s in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: the young dreamer and the adult realist. Katie’s vision of the world is very idealistic, as if life was one big movie. Rick’s outlook is practical, as the cruelty of life and being a parent in an age alien to his passions have taught him. His dreams were once taken away from him, and as a naturally-caring parent, he wants Katie to have a career back-up plan, which Katie interprets as her father’s doubts in her passion and talent. The generational gap is evident and very relatable.
Katie and Rick slowly sort it out between them on the family road trip by understanding where the other is coming from and being grateful for what they’ve done for each other. Teens have to appreciate their parents more and parents have to let go of their kids sometimes to let them grow. It’s all about finding the balance between protection, trust, and many other things.
Might be too early of a call but The Mitchells vs. The Machines is already the top contender for the year’s best animated film; I don’t see any other studio producing something more excellent than this but I hope to be proven wrong. With an emotional story that hit all the right action and comedy beats, another striking point of the film would be its unique visuals. Spider-Verse found the perfect blend between 2D and 3D, and Sony seemed to have their visual style down ever since. This was a very playful flick and it showed with just the colorful scribble visuals. The 3D style doesn’t look like the generic 3D in the current animation market and the general character design evoke a sense of traditional hand-drawn figures. It’s simple but effective and I like it. The animation itself was very good and fluid. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have done it again, Michael Rianda’s directorial debut is fun-tastic, and props to all the animators and artists who worked on this project.
Loved almost everything the film had to offer, really. The comedic cutaways, the pop culture easter eggs, the defective robot buddies, the giant Furby, the Mark Mothersbaugh score, the soundtrack, the nuanced LGBTQ+ representation, and the Zuckerberg diss were so fun. Really enjoyed all of the voice acting performances from the cast here. Speaking of the cast, what a phenomenal one! There’s Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric Andre, and good Lord does our queen Olivia Colman steal the show! I didn’t even know John Legend and Chrissy Teigen voiced the “perfect” Posey neighbor couple, and Conan O’Brien and Fred Armisen were behind the two lovable defective robots. And of course, how could I not mention Doug the Pug as Monchi-- the best part of the movie! Just a terrific coming-together of talent.
While I could say The Mitchells vs. The Machines had excellent writing, it still falls to some cliché moments. The misfit family road trip formula makes the film somewhat predictable, but is well-executed enough for the audience to overlook such moments. The robots didn’t seem much of an actual threat until the final act and the stakes didn’t feel high enough for a literal apocalyptic situation. The extra-colorful graphics were kind of distracting but overall, they’re a nice touch to the visual identity of the film. A small number of jokes feel a little dated and the film nearly lost me early on but it did get interesting fast.
So there, The Mitchells vs. The Machines does deserve the love it has been getting and I’m very happy to have now seen it. In fact, it affected me quite a bit since I’m at this point in my life the same as Katie’s and my parents are having doubts about my future and all. My dry eyes certainly needed those near-tears. Fun, hilarious, but never loses depth, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is the newest family must-see.
Sony Animation upped their game these past few years and I’m tempted to forgive them for making The Emoji Movie but I’m not giving in just yet. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a fine step for the studio in their comeback and I’m rooting for them, and I’m recommending this one. Definitely check this out.
Thank you for reading and have a great day ahead of you! Stay safe and take care.