With the movie theater experience not being back to “normal” just yet, I have turned to streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney + and Amazon Prime to provide my cinematic adventures. (No, I don’t pay for all of these services individually, much like I know you don’t. We are all still out here using an in-law’s Netflix password while distributing our subscription we actually pay for to other family members and friends.) With that being said, I have watched many documentaries lately like The Last Blockbuster, The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, and also 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of those films, I wanted to mix things up a bit on a Monday night and stumbled upon The Mitchells vs The Machines on Netflix and it quickly propelled itself into becoming my favorite movie of the year.
The Mitchells vs The Machines is what it would be like if Scott Pilgrim vs The World had a love child with the action of Die Hard along with the animation and gimmicks of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs...and I’m all here for it. The movie was directed by Michael Rianda, who is most notable for his work on Disney’s Gravity Falls. The animation style of this movie is much like that of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because it was also produced by some of the same people at Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures. If you liked that style from that movie, then you'll really enjoy it in The Mitchells vs The Machines.
This story isn’t something that you haven’t seen before (which at this point in films, is becoming increasingly hard to do) but the way it presents the story is in a fresh new way. Katie Mitchell is a quirky, young girl who is well on her way out of the house to go to film school out in California. She’s ready to leave her old life and disapproving father behind. The kicker is that her father, Rick Mitchell (voiced by Danny McBride), is not so keen on the idea of her pursuing a life as a filmmaker. It’s hard to blame Rick because most parents would react the same way if you told them you were going to college to major in English or art. This disapproval is a cause for tension throughout the majority of the story, but this is the least of their issues when “the machines” begin to take over the world!
The premise of the machines taking over the world is rather satirical because I believe it is a nod to Mark Zuckerberg and the whole Facebook dilemma. Which leads me to point out, if you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix, I also recommend you view that as well. (Okay, now back to the actual reason why you’re here.) PAL is the big tech company in the movie that we can liken to the success of Apple, Facebook or Amazon. It’s creator (ironically named Mark) is set to launch a new product for people to use in their homes, but when things don’t go as planned at his technology release conference, his robots begin to take over the world. (Unfortunately, Will Smith does not make an appearance to save the Mitchell family right away.) This is a classic theme of technology consuming most of our lives (and overextending its reach) while we forget the importance of making time for family and friends. This theme doesn’t feel forced by any means, but is intertwined throughout the story in general.
As I previously mentioned, I am in love with this movie and I have watched a lot of Disney movies in my day. It doesn’t feel cheesy or like an adult couldn’t watch this movie (even if you’re not a second grade teacher) and it genuinely got me to laugh out loud a number of times. It has a colorful combination of humor blended with sentimental moments that will leave you pushing aside the popcorn to reach for the tissue box. The graphics in this movie are also very eye catching as well with many random illustrations popping up throughout the film. The pacing is terrific because of these illustrations and it keeps the flow of the story moving much like the mighty flow of the Namekagon River.
Overall, I will rate this movie a 9 out of 10, which lands it at an A- on my grading scale. The Mitchells vs The Machines has also garnished a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, if that holds any significance to you. I would recommend this to any family or any adult that feels like being a kid for an evening while not succumbing to another cry fest that one might experience while rewatching The Fox and the Hound for the thousandth time.