What do you get when you combine a love for cinema, a quirky family, robots who are taking over the world, and the producers behind The Lego Movie (2014)? You get the fascinating, charming, and hilarious Netflix animated film, The Mitchells vs. the Machines.
Before starting her first year at film school in California, Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) goes on a road trip with her weird family, her parents Linda (Maya Rudolph) and Rick (Danny McBride), her younger brother Aaron (Michael Rianda), and her dog Monchi. Their plans to bond as a family are interrupted when all the world’s electronic devices come to life and start mounting an uprising. The family receives help from two friendly robots (Fred Armisen and Beck Bennett) and comes together to save each other and the planet from a technological apocalypse led by Pal (Olivia Colman).
The animation in this film has such craftsmanship, similar in style to producers Chis Lord and Phil Miller’s previous works like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), with great attention to detail. Unlike those films, this one may seem like a lot is happening at all times, but that is the fun of it all. From riding on the back of human-capturing robots to a giant Kaiju Furby, the overall craziness of the narrative and the animation balance perfectly to make a wildly entertaining film.
Let us not forget about the incredible voice cast this film has, filled with excellent performers like Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Olivia Colman, and a trio of SNL stars, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, and Beck Bennett. It is hard to pick a standout because everyone is fantastic, but Beck Bennett is a scene-stealer. The way he says serious lines in a sarcastic robotic way makes you laugh immediately.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines delivers a message on how society is greatly attached to their electronic devices, how we spend most of our days with our faces stuck to screens. Even if we sit all day working on our computers, playing video games, procrastinating by looking at social media, etc., our lives are run by machinery. It also tells us how important family and the connection between them is, especially in a father-daughter dynamic.
One aspect that cinephiles and film enthusiasts will love is the multiple easter eggs and references of classic films in Katie’s short films, plans, clothing attire, and her bedroom. References include Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (1954), Escape from New York (1981), Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) and The Shining (1980), the 1960’s Batman film transitions, Mad Max 2 (1981), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and even Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974).
It is such a charming, hilarious, passionate, and entertaining film that when the end credits hit, you’ll want to start it all over again. It has everything going its way, and it does not hold back. It would have been a delicacy to see this film on the big screen where the visuals could have popped and dazzled even more, but we must settle for our smaller screens for now.
Sony Pictures Animation has made excellent and greatly entertaining films that you end up liking more than anticipated, and this film is no exception. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a wild rollercoaster ride with deep emotion, quirky family fun, and loads of cinematic references for film lovers.
Originally titled “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” then changed to “Connected”, but once it was purchased by Netflix the title reverted back to “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”.