By Laurie Coker
We need laughter, we need diversions, and we need relevance with a positive twist. First-time feature director Mike Rianda delivers all that and more, with an exciting voice cast in The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Animators have at least one up on traditional filmmakers during the insane pandemic and in the case of The Mitchells vs The Machine, they have created an epically entertaining, light-hearted family film with a pertinent message for us all.
The Mitchells are a mess of a family – Katie (Abbi Jacobson) and her father, Rick (Danny McBride)’s relationship is strained and she is dying to graduate high school and move clear across country to art school and away from her dad. Her little brother Aaron (Rianda) and mother, Linda (Maya Rudolph) round out the weird, dysfunctional family foursome. By all accounts, the Mitchells are the least likely suspects for saving the world from annihilation at the hands of an angry, jilted smart phone. Olivia Colman beautifully voices the Pal, a smartphone belonging to tech phenom Mark Bowman (Eric André), who Bowman abandons for newer, up-scaled robot versions of personal assistants. Pal, a “woman scorned” hacks into the squad of robots and vows to end the world.
Focusing on the relevant issues of human reliance on technology and our propensity for and dependence on our devices, Rianda and crew dish up some colorful, exciting, and fast-paced action as man battles machines. Rianda and co-director/writer Jeff Rowe manage a whimsical, goofy tale of the importance of family and the value of human relationships. For all their quirkiness and dysfunction, the Mitchells are more relatable then are their ideal neighbors, the Poseys (Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, and Charlyne Yi), who seem like the PERFECT family unit – they play, travel, exercise, and get captured together. They, too, must rely on the computer illiterate, Rick and his wacky, funky family and LUCKY they are. For all their fumbling and bumbling, the Mitchells are up for the challenge.
The Mitchells vs the Machines makes for the ideal family movie night. Eye-popping animation, cute and clever imagery and crafty visual effects make this movie engaging from start to finish. After I watched the trailer, I texted my son, his wife, and grandchildren and they enjoyed the film as much as I. We couldn’t watch together, but my granddaughter called me later to tell me I gave “a great recommendation.” We need more of this kind of entertainment. It warrants multiple viewings just to see all the clever references and details and because it is that fun. I am placing an A+ in my grade book. I hope to see more of the Mitchells.