The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines ★★★★½

The Mitchells vs The Machines is the film I wanted Incredibles 2 to be: a zany nuclear family of four (as well as a fifth infantile member who becomes useful to the plot's climax) working through their domestic drama, while confronted by a technologically advanced villain hypnotizing people through screens!

I recall Brad Bird vehemently insisting he won't make an Incredibles sequel unless he had something new to say. Alas he made a sequel 14 years later that was pretty much a retread of explored territory. Mitchells vs Machines is essentially what would have happened if Bird had developed Violet and Dash further as characters; letting them stir the plot forward from the backseat straight to the driver's seat!

Rick Mitchell is the luddite dad nostalgic for simpler times devoid of smartphones and social media, voiced excellently by Danny McBride. Linda Mitchell is the matriarch desperately glueing her dysfunctional family to pass as normal enough for an Instagram post, played by Maya Rudolph (Paul Thomas Anderson's wife for all you cinephiles). Katie Mitchell is an aspiring filmmaker who is eager to start film school since she thinks her quirkiness would be better appreciated there than in her family. Aaron Mitchell is the youngest in the family with hyperactivity and an affinity for dinosaurs. Monchi is the cross-eyed family dog....or pig.....or loaf of bread?! Bollywood fans may relate to this, but I suspect they modelled Monchi after director Anurag Kashyap's likeness lol.

What the Sony team has done is combine the sci-fi and road trip subgenre, along with the setting and theme of family. This nuclear family is reflective of the everyday family household, hence relatable enough for us to invest in their fantastical adventures. It's Vacation meets Little Miss Sunshine meets Terminator meets Edgar Wright's The World's End!

Olivia Colman as the misanthropic vengeful virtual assistant known as PAL is the villain that Incredibles 2's Screenslaver tried so hard to be. As a VA who is easily discarded by her tech-bro creator (voiced by the inimitable Eric Andre), PAL's vendetta is justified by her distrust of human relationships. Indeed, a lot of the themes of human behaviour under social media are manifested in PAL. But the movie wants to be a feel-good family romp, and wisely avoids the route of cynicism in something like Black Mirror or The Social Network. The movie is going for optimism and there's nothing wrong with that; it doesn't judge its audience for spending too much time on their phones.....it's just pure irreverent fun! Great parody of the photogenic Instagram family by having John Legend and Chrissy Teigen voice the Mitchells' all-round perfect neighbours!

In an era when 3-D animation has made creators complacent and out of creativity, Sony is slowly becoming the freshest voice in Hollywood that isn't Pixar. Although not as groundbreaking and ambitious as Into The Spider-verse, the frantic energy of Mitchells vs Machines visuals are a delight. The sensory overload of Phil Lord and Chris Miller makes rewatching for missed visual gags and inside jokes rewarding.

Lord and Miller also have a great ear for music that I don't hear enough acclaim for! Any other millennial lose their shit when T.I & Rihanna's Live Your Life dropped? It felt like the summer of '08 for me all over again!

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