The latest animated family film arrives in Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines from directors Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe. The Mitchells are an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of their biggest family challenge yet…saving the world from the robot apocalypse. No big deal, right? The events are set in motion after creative outsider Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) receives acceptance into her dream film school. Naturally, she is eager to leave home and find “her people.”
To Katie’s dismay, her nature-loving dad Rick (Danny McBride) insists on having the whole family drive her to school and bond during one last totally-not-awkward-or-forced road trip. However, just when the trip can’t get any worse, the family suddenly finds itself in the middle of a robot uprising! Everything from smartphones to Roombas and evil Furbys are set on capturing every human on the planet. Now it is up to the Mitchells, including upbeat mom Linda (Maya Rudolph), quirky little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda), their squishy pug, Monchi, and two friendly but simple-minded robots, to save humanity.
One of the first things you may notice about the film is an animation style similar to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. As I avoided the trailer for The Mitchells vs. The Machines, the glorious animation was a welcome surprise for me. The movie starts with a voice-over by our heroine Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), explaining family importance. At the same time, we see pictures of real-life families. It isn’t long before the audience is thrust smack dab in the middle of the action with the Mitchells as they attempt to outrun some robots.
While the action is going on, Katie is providing great commentary and dropping Meta references. The film then flashes back to a few days earlier and explains how the events transpired. Kudos to the film’s screenwriters Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, for showing Katie as a child and how her love of cinema began. It’s an excellent setup for Katie’s arc, and her creativity involving police and man’s best friend will bring a smile to anyone’s face.
The heart of the film is the quirks that the Mitchell family possesses. Patriarch Rick is a typical dad who cracks jokes but needs to identify with his oldest child. Until I read the film’s closing credits, I had no idea that Danny McBride was the voice behind Rick. The comedian is clearly having a good time and avoids his usual Schick. The always-enjoyable Maya Rudolph is also a hoot as matriarch Linda. She only wants the best for her family and the acceptance of her wealthy neighbors. However, I must say the role that had me cracking up the most was Aaron. The film’s co-writer and director, Michael Rianda, brings a dry wit and deadpan humor to Aaron’s dinosaur fanatic character.
Oscar-winner Oliva Coleman provides solid supporting work as Pal, our antagonist, as does Eric Andre voicing Mark, Pal’s creator. Finally, in a hilarious cameo John Legend and Chrissy Teigen show up in roles that I will not reveal. The Mitchells vs. The Machines has a great message about disconnecting from electronics and reconnecting to your family, which also made me crack a smile when the credits rolled.
While the run time for The Mitchells vs. The Machines could have used a trim, the film is never dull, and the jokes arrive at a rapid pace. Buddy Valastro once said, “Having family time to reflect on your day is the best.” Therefore, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is great family entertainment.
Final Grade : B+
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is available to stream on April 30th at The Mitchells Vs The Machines