While coming of age stories are well-trod territory, there is always room for more. Especially when the story is a unique blend of animation styles, combined with hilarious characters. The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is a story that will appeal to children and adults. It’s funny, quirky, and an all around joyride—the kind that won’t include running from robot armies later.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) being forced on a family road trip to begin her first year at college. Suddenly AI, including robots and electronics, try to take over the world. The documentary style within the movie as Katie Mitchell records the family road trip is hilarious.
Terrific Blend Between Animation and Comic Style
The inclusion of all the added effects—lines to show singing, or a floating red broken heart being mended—that we often see in live-action films or comics works even better here given Katie’s passion. She is someone immersed in online and filmmaking. The reversal of having occasional real life images around animation fills us with a connection that transcends the common barriers present in connecting with an animated world. For movies that blend real people and animation, the lead is often a real person in an animated world. Here it’s the opposite as though the animated world is real and we occasionally pop up within it.
The relationship between the family is funny and familiar as many of us have had family lecture us about pursuing something “realistic.” Especially if we dream of life outside of the 9-to-5 grind. As such, the relationship between Katie and her dad, Rick (Danny McBride), helps ground this animation in reality. Even the family dog, Monchi is riotously different and gives credence to the conversation that pets resemble their owners. His eyes can’t look straight, each drifting to their respective sides.
A Story Of Generational Miscommunication
Another notable part is the movie within a movie quality as it relates to both Katie and her dad. Katie has to see a recording of her confession to her brother, Aaron (Michael Rianda). It’s only when she sees the playback that she fully realizes the harm of what she has done. Rick also has to see the films Katie has made, in order to realize how harmful his lectures and reticence to bridge the growing divide between them has adversely impacted their relationship. Not only does it take film for them to both fully embrace change, this pivotal moment comes at the hands of people outside the family. A reminder that sometimes it takes someone or something outside for us to see what’s within.
This aptly emphasizes our ability to often connect and learn better through film and cinema because, like Katie and Rick, it provides a distance while maintaining an influential force. The hilarity doesn’t hurt either and The Mitchells Vs. The Machines know how to play it up. It employs both moving original scores, but often only after reeling in the audience with a track they’ve heard elsewhere like Kill Bill or Penelope. Each time will leave viewers snapping their fingers and cheering, particularly when the mom, Linda (Maya Rudolph), hits mama bear rage mode.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is, so far, the best 2021 animated movie. It’s got an eccentric style, nostalgic music, quirky characters and a relatable message throughout. Watch it with the family or friends and enjoy!