In a year that has seen Disney release three animated films (Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon and Pixar’s Luca), The Mitchells vs. the Machines is here to help push the boundaries of the animation medium even more. The film follows Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), an aspiring filmmaker who is about to start film school, her dad Rick (Danny McBride), her mum Linda (Maya Rudolph), younger brother Aaron (Mike Rianda), and pug Monchi (Doug the Pug) and the chronicles how the familial relationships have become strained over time and the events that bring them back together. The titular “Machines” appear when a virtual assistant called PAL (Olivia Colman) is discarded for the next big thing and swears revenge on humanity. There’s a lot going on in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, but the way everything ties together means that the film is never overwhelming.
The film is directed by Mike Rianda who cowrote the screenplay with Jeff Rowe and is based on Rianda’s own personal experiences which he has combined with his childhood obsession with robots. The result is a film that on the surface is bonkers and filled with lots of fantasy and imagination but underneath has a beautiful and relatable story about family and the relationships we form with those around us. The personal connection that Rianda has is clearly there and this is portrayed through the realism of the relationships, especially the one between Katie and Rick as the two begin to find that they share a lot in common and are able to work together. The screenplay is not only innovative as Rianda also incorporates a variety of different mediums into the animation that makes it an explosion of imagination and a joy to watch.
Leading the cast is Abbi Jacobson, who voices Katie Mitchell. Jacobson brings her quirky charm to Katie and the passion that the character has for film. What is evident for Jacobson and the rest of the cast is that they have a lot of love for their characters and are unafraid to push their performances where they need to go. Katie is a brilliant character who has a lot of creativity and imagination and needs the resources to express herself. Not only is Katie resourceful and intelligent, she is also openly gay which is a huge step in animation and family films. The way in which this is brought into the film is subtle yet provides representation that is highly needed in family films.
There is a whole flurry of supporting actors who provide voices for characters you really root for. Playing Katie’s parents are Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph who voice her dad and mum, respectively. Both are great as they provide their signature humour to their roles. McBride is especially great as Rick as he brings through the inner struggle that the character has as he wants to be closer to Katie but can’t find the action or the words to do so and it is wonderful to see their relationship blossom throughout the film.
Olivia Colman has been gaining a lot of attention thanks to her amazing performance in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s film The Lost Daughter, but her supporting vocal turn in The Mitchells vs. the Machines is absolutely hilarious. Colman is immediately identifiable thanks to the sharp wit and charisma, despite voicing a phone and she really makes PAL feel like a huge threat and unstoppable force. It sounds like Colman is having a lot of fun with the role and it makes the film even more enjoyable to watch, while scenes with PAL are brilliant and among the highlights.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines has proven itself to be one of the most innovative animations released in 2021 thanks to its quirky blend of computer animation and live-action clips to create a world that is truly unique and unlike anything we have ever seen before. It manages to be groundbreaking in its execution while remaining gripping and funny throughout, making it the perfect film for all ages.
What did you think of The Mitchells vs. the Machines? Let me know in the comments below!
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is available to stream on Netflix now!