We review: The Mitchells vs The Machines

In a time when everyone is reliant on the internet and technology, Netflix has released an animated film that asks the age-old question: What happens when the program becomes smarter than the developers?

The Mitchells family consists of 5 members: Katie, the misunderstood, tech-savvy daughter who is about to head off to her dream school on the other side of the country to pursue her interest in filmmaking. Next, we have Aaron, the little brother/dinosaur enthusiast.  Monchi, the family pug that looks more akin to a loaf of bread than an actual dog. Rounding out the family, Rick and Linda Mitchell are their parents.

Linda has embraced social media, aspiring to be one of those social media-perfect families, while Rick has not really kept up with technology and is frustrated at the dependence his family has on it. Katie and Rick have a strained relationship because of their different views. A day before Katie is set to take a flight to her new school, Rick accidentally breaks Katie’s prized possession: her laptop. In an effort to make up for it, Rick cancels Katie’s flight and instead turns her move into an opportunity for a family road trip! Havoc ensues on the way as technology has now become sentient and is taking its revenge on people. The Mitchells are the only ones who managed to escape the clutches of AI and are now trying to save the world while improving their family relationship.

With names like Maya Rudolf, Danny McBride, Chrissy Teigen, and even Doug the Pug lending their voices to the film, it’s a wonder The Mitchells vs The Machines didn’t get much of a media push. Regardless, its Netflix debut garnered positive reviews from critics and film enthusiasts alike. Here’s my take on the film.

The story is relatable and straightforward. Who can’t relate to being glued to a screen all day? Personally, I spend most of my waking hours staring at a screen, whether it be my computer, my phone, or a TV. At the same time, we’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to talk to someone who can’t focus on anything but social media. We’re either Rick or the rest of the Mitchells. The family dynamic and the strain technology has taken are clearly shown and established without it taking so much of the start of the movie that you end up bored. Each character feels fully fleshed out, from the Mitchells themselves to Monchi, to the robots and even the extras. No character was a throwaway, which I truly appreciate. Motives were clear and you could easily follow the thought process that went into how problems were solved or why they thought certain plans would work.

Visually, I was hoping for a lot, and my expectations were met and surpassed. This isn’t really a surprise though, as the animators of The Mitchells vs The Machines are the same brilliant artists that gave us Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. It was an amazing blend of different visual mediums without it feeling like a mishmash just to set the film apart from other animated film releases. The art reflected the storytelling and created a more fulfilling movie-watching experience. The colorful and dynamic visuals is sure to keep everyone in your family entertained. With films like this available on all our screens, it’s no wonder we’re basically glued to our devices.

I’ve always been of the belief that soundtrack and film scoring generally shouldn’t feel like anything too obvious. Meaning I shouldn’t really notice it – especially if it wasn’t meant to be the main focus of a scene. Given how I qualify this, they were pretty successful. The music never jarred me out of a scene. The soundtrack wasn’t bad featuring a few meme songs like Nyan Cat, but it also showcased a few old favorites like Rihanna’s Live Your Life, and Ironside by Quincy Jones. Nothing to write home about, but not a bad selection of tunes.

All in all, The Mitchells vs The Machines is a fun film to watch and is a good reflection on society and how much time we spend on our screens. It’s funny, actually, the mediums we use to warn against excessive screen time add minutes and hours to our screen time. It also reminds us to respect technology, but value people, relationships, and reality. If you’re looking for something to bond over as a family this weekend, sitting around and watching The Mitchells vs The Machines is definitely worth it.


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