The Mitchells vs. The Machines Review
Colman … is a scene-stealer each and every time her character (the equivalent of a smartphone) delivers a line.
Imagine what would happen if one of the Terminator movies was reimagined into a computer-animated comedy. It would be cheesy, mildly funny, filled with artificial intelligence and some violence disguised behind some cool music and animation. Columbia Pictures decided to make this movie and this week it debuts in select theaters before streaming on Netflix beginning on April 30, 2021. The aptly titled, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, is humorous, offers some great voice talent and animation, and, of course, includes the obligatory, heartwarming, moral lesson. Unsurprising to almost anyone, (spoiler alert) it also has a happy ending.
Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson; Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) is an average teenage girl. She never fits in at school, fights with her father often, and is strong-willed. As she gets ready to leave for film school, having finally found "her people", she argues with her dad, Rick (Danny McBride; Alien: Covenant), more and more and is eager to leave her small town and her family behind. Rick, however, comes up with a great (in his mind) idea that instead of dropping Katie at the airport, the whole family would take a road trip to drop her off at college – an idea she hates (as you could imagine).
Along the way they make several stops to "take in the sights", which usually end up somehow going wrong. Since Katie's little brother Aaron (Mike Rianda; one of the film's 2 directors) loves dinosaurs, the family stops at a dinosaur museum which is much less than they imagined. Suddenly a huge explosion knocks every off their feet and summons the arrival of humanoid robots that have been sent by their leader, Pal (Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman; The Favourite) to round up all the humans and take over the planet. The Mitchells, with the help of two malfunctioning robots, try to stop Pal and her army before they destroy mankind.
McBride adds his quirky brand of humor to make the character of Rick the epitome of the stereotypical dad, armed with "dad jokes". His good-hearted intentions are well intoned by McBride leaving every parent who sends a child off to college feeling a little lump in their throat. Jacobson is terrific as the lead character, letting her enthusiasm shine through. Rianda sounds too old to play Aaron, making the character disjointed. Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) voices Katie's mom using her natural comedic timing to deliver the dialogue beautifully. Colman, however, is a scene-stealer each and every time her character (the equivalent of a smartphone) delivers a line.
The computer animation is well done and the blend of sharp edges with the occasional fluidity of hand-drawn "doodles" gives the film some texture as it is being told from the artist/film school student, Katie's, perspective. Writers/Directors Rianda and Jeff Rowe need to master the fine art of editing as the script, and subsequently, the movie, are both too long. Also, having written episodes of Gravity Falls, The Mitchells vs. The Machines takes a more mature and violent turn, therefore making it not your typical children's animated movie.
Trying to stand out in the crowd from all the other animated films out there, while still attempting to imbue several life lessons, the movie seems scattered at times. However, it does offer a stark look at how artificial intelligence seems to consume our lives, and the scenario of them one day taking over the world isn't as far-fetched as might seem.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is definitely not for the toddler members of the household, but I could see 8-year-olds and up being interested in the film. Honestly, I can also see some creative college students making up a drinking game for the movie.
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 113 minutes
Distributed By: Netflix / Columbia Pictures