Katie Mitchell knows her family aren’t the ideal choice to save humanity from the rise of the machines. As she admits, they only have “weaknesses” and absolutely no idea what they are doing.
But that’s also exactly what makes The Mitchells vs The Machines, Netflix’s hugely enjoyable animated sci-fi comedy, so perfect for people of all ages. Katie and her younger brother Aaron, mother Linda, father Rick and even their homely pet pug Monchi learn to embrace their perceived faults, before turning them into strengths.
Thankfully, the writing and directing team of Jeff Rowe and Mike Rianda don’t deliver this message in a trite or simplified manner. Instead, the film is genuinely heartfelt, uplifting and powerful, as each member of the household grows in confidence during their fight to take down the electronic devices that are wreaking havoc.
At the start, though, they are just about as dysfunctional and distant as a family can get. Katie, a creative outsider who has never fitted in anywhere, can’t wait to leave home after getting accepted into the film school of her dreams.
Linda just wants everyone to get along, but that’s hard when her nature-loving husband Rick is so anti-technology. Unfortunately, over the years, this has created a divide between him and his daughter.
Rick’s final shot at bringing them all together leads him to cancel Katie’s plane ticket across the US so that he can drive them instead. Halfway through their journey, a new line of personal robots provoke all the world’s electronic devices to enslave humanity. As the only family that manages to avoid capture, it is left to the Mitchells to somehow stop them.
What makes The Mitchells vs The Machines really stand out is just how laugh-out-loud funny it is. This isn’t just for a couple of scenes, either. Sections of the film are so relentlessly hilarious it is hard to catch your breath, as bountiful sight gags are mixed with cutaway jokes, moments of ingenious characterisation and witty dialogue.
The pitch-perfect cast helps in these comedic pursuits. Abbi Jacobson’s awkward but ambitious Katie, Danny McBride’s cynical but lovable Rick and Maya Rudolph’s devoted but fierce Linda are particular standouts. But Eric Andre, Fred Armisen and Beck Bennett, alongside Olivia Colman as the AI villain who leads the worldwide coup, each chime in with equally uproarious work.
The film doesn’t just coast on its all-star line-up of comedians, though. Rowe and Rianda’s vibrant and colourful direction is accompanied by swift and ravishing visuals. In fact, The Mitchells vs The Machines is so free-spirited and brimming with ideas that it feels reminiscent of The Lego Movie or Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, which makes sense since its producers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, also worked on both films.
Ultimately, the film might be a tad too long, and its chaotic ending doesn’t quite land on the first time of watching, but there is too much that’s great about The Mitchells vs The Machines to be anything other than enraptured by it. As well as making you guffaw, it will warm the heart and mind of even the deepest pessimist, as it tells viewers to embrace their quirks, reminds them that their parents are human, too, and, after Soul and Wolfwalkers, is another reminder that the animation genre might just be the pinnacle of modern Hollywood.
The Mitchells vs The Machines is on Netflix from 30 April
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