• Michael Rianda
• Jeff Rowe
Danny McBride, Eric André, Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda
A strange, dysfunctional road trip of the family ends up when it is during the robot apocalypse and suddenly becomes the final hope of mankind. Like a mix of an 80’s family street comedy like “Vacation,” Netflix’s “The Mitchells against the Machines,” and his vision of a tech catastrophe predicted in movies like “The Terminator” are a lot of nostalgic but contemporary fun. It is also a whip-intelligent action picture, a film with almost “Fury Road”-Esque impulsive velocity as it asks the question, “What if the only family that could rescue the world was so functional as yours?” It is sometimes an issue with hyperactivity that overrides any other narrative choice. Thought with intelligent remarks on our dependence on technology, this is an unbelievably powerful surprise for families seeking something different this season and for one of Netflix’s simply delightful, animated flicks.
Like many young people, technological progress has increased the distance between Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) and her father Rick (Danny McBride). She is creative and directed popular YouTube films, many of them with her dumb pug Monchi in a series dubbed “Dog Cop;” dad doesn’t know how to operate the internet or smartphone even to view videos that made his daughter a celebrity. The difference in personality between Katie and her father is even more significant since she plans to go to film school to follow her goals. He is from a generation that doesn’t know how to communicate his emotions except by giving them a flawless screwdriver. In an attempt to join them one more before they depart, Rick decided that Katie would be taken to school for a final family road trip by Mitchell’s mother, including Linda (Maya Rudolph), Katie’s brother Aaron (Rianda), and Monchi. The same day the machines take over the planet, it simply occurs.
As Mitchell’s surf, the family drama, technological titan Mark Bowman, Eric Andre, presents a new PAL version, an iPhone or iPad, the world’s next milestone for technology development. Imagine if your technology, such as Siri or Alexa, was part of a real robot assistant. It is not good since Olivia Colman refuses to replace the original PAL virtual assistant (playfully expressed by Olivia) with the new model. So, she turns technology on the planet against her human masters, imprisoning them and planning their replacement. The doomsday of the robot only exists for the Mitchells, yet the Mitchells alone can prevent the destruction of humanity by PAL.
The voice cast “The Mitchells against The Machines” is a remarkable strength, as with previous Lord/Miller productions. The character of ’emotionally restrained father,’ which in family entertainment has been done to death and is felt by McBride, does not overlay ‘a wild adolescent,’ impregnating Katie with trust instead. The backup cast includes Fred Armisen & Beck Bennett as a couple of robots who are the allies of the Mitchells, Chrissy Teigen & John Legend as the ideal parents who live nearby and, believe it or not, Blake Griffin and Conan O’Brien. They are also very entertaining vocal performances.
Yet “The Mitchells against the machinery” has the greatest strength in design. A combined powerful, man-designed character line gives the picture virtually the feeling of a comic book in action. Still, the movies have built the film in sufficient easter eggs for the YouTube culture to make this young film school student seem like not just a movie about Katie but the movie. It is always aesthetically inspired and innovative, but it tends to be nearly overwhelmed in its second half. Still, for parents or their more net-savvy youngsters, it is never once aesthetically dull.
The folks behind “The Mitchells against the Machines” are an undeniably brilliant team (summaries include very entertaining “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs” films and the fantastic “Gravity Falls”). There are moments when I wanted the movie to slow down a little—and at around 110 minutes, it’s too long—but these are generally minor concerns. The one thing that is most likely important for families to consider is looking at it together. My kids were asking when they could see it again before it was even finished.