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Film Review: The Mitchells vs. The Machines

11 May 21 words: Hollie Anderson

This animated family adventure is sweet and silly, with a little sprinkle of delightfully dystopian humour, writes Hollie Anderson...

Director: Mike Rianda
Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph
Running time: 109 minutes

The Mitchells vs. The Machines follows the story of Katie as she prepares to leave her dysfunctional family for film college. A quirky teen that’s totally misunderstood by her parents, she cannot wait for a fresh start. However, a spanner is thrown into the works when her outdoorsy dad Rick sabotages her plan and swaps flights for a family road trip. Then to top it all off, tech company Pal launches a new line of robots that swiftly kidnap all of mankind and begin their plan to take over the world. 

What follows is the Mitchell family’s bid for survival and plan to take down their new overlords. The family is also made up of dinosaur-obsessed Aaron, kindergarten teacher mum Linda and one very dumb dog – and some brilliant moments come out of this mix of characters. I especially enjoyed the mum’s competition with Insta-perfect family the Poseys, and the relationship between Katie and her little brother. 

The voices of Maya Rudolph (as Linda) and Olivia Coleman (who plays the phone edition of Pal) are delightfully snuck in alongside John Legend and Chrissy Teigen as the Poseys. And even internet sensation Doug the Pug has somehow nabbed a credit as the Mitchells’ stupid family pooch Monchi. 

As a grown-up, I was a little disturbed to realise I wasn’t quite ‘getting’ Katie’s movies and I instantly disliked the use of emojis and YouTube clips throughout the film… at nearly 30, I now identify with the older characters.

Daft and silly, but with real heart

But, even if you’re not a kid, please bear with the first 20 minutes. Trust me, the moment the apocalypse strikes, the fun kicks in and writers Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe’s sense of humour really gets into its stride. 

The best bits include when two robots pretending to be humans end up adopting Linda as their own mother, and there’s a hilarious moment where an army of Furbys (yes, the toy from the 90s) turn evil and attack the family. My favourite quote from the film? A giant Furby thunderously declaring: “Let the dark harvest begin!”  

All in all, I love a kids film, but tend to avoid anything that’s too tacky and caught up in social media trends – they just don’t feel wholesome enough. Despite my initial concerns though, this film is just lovely; daft and silly, but with real heart as well. Would thoroughly recommend it for a rainy family day in. 

Did you know? Some of the film’s staff are alumni of the Disney cartoon Gravity Falls. Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe both wrote several of the show’s episodes, and two of the show’s storyboard artists also made uncredited contributions to the film.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is available now on Netflix

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