The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I probably won't articulate my thoughts on this one very well, much in the same way I couldn't with Sony Pictures Animation's Lord & Miller-produced SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE when that first came out.

THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES is an unabashed celebration of weirdos, all the way down to outright proclaiming it several times over. Maybe a bit too much, but hey, it needs to be said anyways! Everyone in the Mitchell family is headstrong as all heck, and that's what makes their dynamic so compelling. They're all weird-AF in their own ways, but are so different from one another that they often clash, particularly visionary creative Katie and her boomer-esque dad. Naturally, a lot of heart and thought emanates from this quartet and their funny-looking dog, but the telling of it is fresh and exciting. What I particularly liked was that none of the family members had to cave to one another, and instead opt to still love and appreciate one another despite their wildest differences. It especially bolster's Katie's arc, as she is the protagonist after all, but everyone gets to shine. Meanwhile, the story tightropes nicely between wittily criticizing the techy algorithm-driven world we live in while championing the creative and beneficial use of said tech. Knowing Phil Lord and Chris Miller's work, and directors Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe (both GRAVITY FALLS alumni), this obviously wasn't going to be a 100min version of "I can't click book!", but it was still surprising and refreshing to see it have a nuanced and fun take on how we are all connected today. Speaking of "connected", thank goodness they ditched that bland temporary re-title and embraced what this movie was always meant to be called. Calling this movie "CONNECTED" would've been a complete contradiction of the theme, by forcing the movie with its idiosyncratic title to settle for a dull, corporate-mandated one-word adjective title that tries to present it like every other animated film out there.

Moving on...

The visuals. The... Visuals...

I could go on all day, much like I said about SPIDER-VERSE on its opening weekend. Sony Pictures Animation's teams once again eschew the once dominant Pixar style of photorealism and rendering. MITCHELLS still has a lot of details and immersive locations, but the overall presentation gives them a very vintage, classic, hand-drawn and hand-painted feel. It's integrated so subtly and smoothly with the 3D base models and assets, and jam-packed with small details. Like SPIDER-VERSE, it is indeed a next step for CG animation. Not because it looks to hand-drawn art, but because it's doing something different for once. This style, plus all of the little flourishes (courtesy of Katie's endless creativity, illustrated fantastically through intermittent inner-thoughts of random weirdo drawings, puppets, and mixed media delights) more than compliments the story it's telling. MITCHELLS doesn't hold back on the weird, everyone onboard the film was clearly encouraged to go all-out with the premise and the scenarios of the individual set-pieces. They must've been told "if you can make this even cooler, do it!" It must've been a blast working on this. I mean... Killer toasters and evil Furbies and two robots trying their damnedest to be like people and oblivious pugs saving the day? Where else are you gonna get that??

Also, I'm just going to say that Katie and her little brother Aaron are TOTES autistic. Gotta be! Katie literally stims and acts random and has such meticulous passion for her films, she even struggles greatly at eye contact in one scene, in addition to having such an offbeat sense of humor, style, and outlook. All those scenes showing her inner-thoughts reacting to the action going on, that's totally my autistic brain at work. Same goes for super-duper-dinosaur-obsessed Aaron and how he fares in social situations, many of the scenes are hilariously exaggerated to the max. Yeah, MITCHELLS is an autistic-AF film, and you ain't gonna tell me different.

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