The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021) – Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe

Netflix delivered a fantastic animated feature with The Mitchells vs. the Machines. I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure. It looked a little too goofy, or too silly, but settling in for it, you actually realize it has a lot to say about family, technology, and life in general, and it does it in a blisteringly funny way.

And it came as no surprise that it received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobsen) used to have such a connection to her dad, Rick (Danny McBride) and then she discovered film, and started making movies and had dreams of making it big as a director, and her father just didn’t understand her anymore.

This is something I could relate to in a huge way. My love of films, and repeatedly watching movies over and over is something my dad never understood. And I even had the silly idea of wanting to go to film school as well… So I can relate big time to Katie.

And now, she’s about to leave for the west coast to go to film school. Her mother, Linda (Maya Rudolph) works to keep her family together, and talking, she is a first grade teacher, so she can handle anything thrown at her, and young Aaron (Micheal Rianda) has a dinosaur fixation, and is almost as nerdy as his sister.

And this is to say nothing of the family dog.

When things are on the verge of falling apart, Rick cancels Katie’s flight to the west coast and school so that they can drive across country; one last family trip so that he can reconnect with his daughter.

Unfortunately, they don’t have to contend with the seemingly perfect next door neighbors (voiced by Chrissy Teigen and John Legend) but a robot uprising instigated by a phone operating system known as PAL (Olivia Coleman), who is determined to capture all humans and deport them all… off the planet.

But no one can contend with the weirdness which is family, and through a rediscovery of who she is, and her connection to those who love her, Katie and her family are ready, if seemingly inept, to save the world.

Brilliantly realized, the film brings the father-daughter relationship to screen fantastically, both the good and the bad, and while it doesn’t make things sappy, it definitely pulls at heart strings, and each character moment is earned, and delivered perfectly.

This is a joyous romp of a film that has a number of messages, doesn’t get bogged down in it, and is suitable (and relatable) viewing for the entire family.

Using a mix of animation styles, and recognizable (if taken to extremes) situations, this one is just so much fun. It deserves to be shared, talked about, and watched again.

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