The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines ★★★½

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The Mitchells vs. The Machines is yet another Lord and Miller-produced animation that leaps off the screen and just drips with colour and creativity. 

They’re only credited as producers but I’ve heard stories about their involvement in the creative process and it seems that a lot of the time - even if they’re only officially producers on a film - they still get involved with the writing stages of development and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case here. As already stated, the visual style on display here is overflowing with energy, flare and in-your-face images.

They made revolutionary steps in animation with The Lego Movie, did a again with Into the Spider-Verse and - while I don’t know that The Mitchell’s vs. The Machines is necessarily “revolutionary,” it’s certainly unique.

The script also has their fingerprints all over it, from woke meme humour to self-satire and a genuine emotional core, there were plenty of times while watching this that I felt their input (whether it was just placebo and they in fact did only produce it, or whether they had a more hands-on approach I don’t know, but I suspect it’s the latter).

At times the humour was somewhat childish and the dog character, who will probably be everyone else’s favourite, didn’t really do much for me. I thought all of the jokes about him were quite predictable and were very slapstick-y. On the flip side though, there were multiple scenes that had me laughing my ass off, such as the scene with the giant shrieking Furby and the defective robots, Eric and Deborahbot 5000.

Abbi Jacobson gives a good voice performance as the main character Katie and she well plays off of Danny McBride, who seems to be doing his best Seth Rogen impression here. Either way, I love McBride and was pleasantly surprised to see him pop up in this.

The first act did drag a little and the film in general felt slightly overlong to me. I’d probably cut 10-15 minutes and I feel like a good chunk of that could be taken out of the first act. The characterisation and family dynamics were well thought out, but it was almost half an hour before the machines started attacking.

There was some good social commentary on a plethora of things, but most notably in terms of the role technology plays in our lives. The writers and director skilfully walked a fine line here as they showed the perspectives of the younger generation and also that of their parents.

I also have to praise director Michael Rianda because this is his directorial debut aside from a couple of short films, and if The Mitchell’s vs. The Machines is anything to go by, he’ll be bringing a lot of fun, energy and humour to the world of animation. 

It’s not the best animated film you’ll ever see, but I’ll bet it’s one of the ones that will stick out the most in your mind. Great visuals, exciting action, humour that (mostly) lands, and it has heart.