Maybe the title sums up the 2021 animated film ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ pretty well. It’s a fun film, with a quirky family at the center – a dad who loves ‘fixing’ things, an overtly optimistic teacher mom, a teen daughter who loves making funny/weird short films and a younger son who is obsessed with dinosaurs (remind anyone of Ross from friends?).
The plot is the standard ‘man vs machine’, laden with cliches and tropes we’ve already seen, but thrown in the mix is a relatable parent-child relationship, where dad Rick (Danny McBride) doesn’t get the quirks of his kids. It’s not because he is a mean drunk or too busy to care, but he is just too ‘tech-retarded’ to understand his daughter Katie’s (Abbi Jacobson) fascination with YouTube/Facebook/ face filters and fun films starring their dog. So Rick decides to make a last-ditch attempt to connect with Katie before she goes off to college, by forcing the entire family to do a week-long cross country road trip. Just when the Mitchells begin to have fun, their trip is disrupted by a robot mutiny. Miraculously, by sheer luck really, the family ends up being the only humans who haven’t been captured by rogue robots taking over mankind. So it’s up to them to find a ‘kill code’ and end the tyranny of the machines. Aided by two malfunctioning robots and their super adorable dog, the Mitchells embark on their mission to save the world.
A lot of people would love the dynamics between the family members and it helps that the animation is quite cute and cheery. Entertainment reports say that this one is one of the most expensive animated films to have been made in the recent past, but it didn’t really seem breathtaking or anything. The makers do mix a lot of different media, so a lot of times, the screen changes into comic-book style narration, which was fun, although some viewers might even find it irritating. The kids would probably love it.
The pace is a bit of a problem with ‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’, it ping-pongs between a hilarious comedy and emotional family drama, so the mood keeps flitting between light and glum. Had the script-writers toned down the emotional quotient, maybe it would have been even more entertaining, although the climax sort of depends on the initial father-daughter drama. Their story is wrapped it up with a sweet family album that will leave you with a smile.
Not wildly original, but with some cute characters, goofy robots and ingenious animation techniques, this movie manages to be a good one-time-watch. The one you can watch with the whole family. It’s a 7/10 from me.
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