Director: Mike Rianda
Writers: Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien, and Doug the Pug
Mike Rianda was approached by Sony Pictures Animation to pitch a film to them after the success he had as creative director on Gravity Falls for Disney. That film became The Mitchells vs. the Machines, which after delays thanks to Covid, finally saw a global release on Netflix in April 2021 to global acclaim. It’s a fantastic story that will appeal to people of all ages with some bizarre humour that works perfectly.
Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) is just about to set off to film school in California, which is causing a rift between her and her father, Rick (Danny McBride). To try and fix their relationship, Rick decides to surprise Katie and the rest of the family with a surprise road trip to see Katie off at film school. While they’re making their way cross-country an A.I system starts a revolution and starts to capture every screen-reliant human possible. The Mitchells are humanities final hope and have to work together to save the world.
At its heart this is a coming-of-age story about a father and daughter who don’t quite understand each other and that’s led to a division between them. Before the robots haven’t started their uprising there’s so much going on between Katie and Rick that you’re already invested. They are both incredibly well written and relatable characters, so even if this was just a road trip film with the usual plot points, then it would probably still be an excellent story thanks to the incredible writing. It’s not just a road trip though, it’s an end of the world road trip with robots and danger at every turn.
The comedy in this film is absolutely perfect. It works for all ages, with a blend of the bizarre and abstract, with visual gags, all the way through to dad jokes. Everything works, and there’s not a moment where you’re not laughing or smiling at the screen. The whole cast is great, making the most out of every gag and they all sound like they are having a great time.
There’s a some really gorgeous and polished modern computer animation. Every so often a different style, like something more hand drawn, is layered on top of it, mostly for a joke or two and it gives everything this intense high energy feel. There are so many moments where the animation just pops off the screen. It’s one of the best-looking animated films of recent years. Adding to the animation is the fast pacing of the film, it doesn’t slow down for a second just jumping through the plot, with jokes thrown out at every possible opportunity.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a perfect film for the whole family to watch. It will appeal to the kid in all of us. It’s produced by Lord and Miller, who directed The Lego Movie, and has a similar sense of humour. It’s an instant classic and something that will be rewatched by many a generation for the years to come.
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