My favourite thing to do on a weekend is make a bowl of fresh popcorn and curl up on the sofa with my family and switch on an animated film. Full disclosure: I’m okay doing this by myself as well, which is why I was so glad to see that Netflix had released a brand new animated film on their service, courtesy the good people at Sony Pictures Animation. They are the same people behind the Hotel Transylvania and the Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs movies, and while they are not quite at Pixar level, they are always a fun watch.
And that is exactly why I was pleasantly surprised by The Mitchells vs The Machines, a fantastic mishmash of road tripping meets robot apocalypse. The animation style is very innovative and reminded me of Sony’s other recent cinematic masterpiece, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, with emojis and doodles popping up around the main characters to emphasize their emotions. But the real WOW factor this movie can boast of is its heart!
So what’s the story all about? Katie Mitchell is a budding film-maker who discovered her passion for making movies at a very young age. Her brother Aaron, who is obsessed with dinosaurs, totally gets Katie’s short films and her wacky sense of humour, and her mother, Linda, while not completely understanding what Katie’s films are about, is 100% supportive of Katie’s ambitions. The problem is her father, Rick, who just isn’t on the same page as Katie and does not think Katie’s passion is going to be enough to help her earn a living. Rick is a natural outdoorsman and is not the biggest fan of technology, even struggling with basic things like using a search engine. (Ever wondered how search engines work? Find out here.) Things come to a head the day before Katie has to leave for film school, and Rick, thinking he is about to lose his daughter forever, decides to cancel Katie’s plane ticket and plans a family road trip to drop her off.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the robot apocalypse? Well, while the Mitchells’ family drama unfolds on one side, IT mogul Mark Bowman has just launched the next big thing in mobile computing—personal assistant robots! The thing with artificial intelligence and movies is that the robots almost always turn evil. This movie’s no different and before you know it, robots have taken over the planet. I’m not kidding about the timeline here; the robots have 95% of the world’s population trapped within four hours! Will the Mitchells be able to get Katie to college, while fending off deadly robots? Will Rick and Katie heal their fractured relationship in time? Will someone launch personal robots in the real world, so that I too can get one to help me out at Tinkle’s headquarters? Well, the movie will answer the first two questions, not so much the last!
While the movie does focus on our over-dependence on technology and our internet addiction, it doesn’t get preachy about it and highlights the benefits that tech has brought for us as well. There is a hilarious scene right at the start, where Rick tells the family to put away their phones at the dining table, with super awkward consequences! However, the core of the movie is about family and the power of relationships. In fact, one of the main reasons the main antagonist thinks the human race is doomed is because we don’t value relationships anymore, be with our family, our friends, or even our belongings. The script also gives equal weightage to both Rick and Katie’s issues, making the audience realize how their perspective is justified. I loved how the makers used home videos to give us a glimpse into the Mitchells’ lives before the events of the movie.
This is an absolutely beautiful film that touches you in all the right places with all the right feels, proving that after Spiderverse, Sony is only upping their game. The Mitchells vs The Machines is a movie I would highly recommend to anyone who likes family comedies and robot uprisings.
SPOILER ALERT: Watch out for the robot ‘children’ the Mitchells adopt halfway through the film. Absolute scene stealers! Also Linda’s warrior avatar right at the end. Glorious!
As of May 15, The Mitchells vs The Machines is streaming on Netflix.