The Mitchells vs.The Machines is very much cut from the same talented cloth as Sony Pictures Animation’s Oscar-winning hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The brilliant artists at Sony Pictures Animation, yet again, set a new bar for computer animation; offering audiences indescribably energetic visuals that astonishingly never lose the film’s lightning-fast pace. But just like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the story struggles to keep up with the film’s skill. The movie assuredly commits its general theme to the importance of communication, but the narrative misses a big opportunity to focus its main father-daughter dynamic on this message.
Before the Mitchells find themselves in a world bordering on apocalyptic circumstances caused by robots experiencing a faulty software update, college freshman Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) has her blinders deflecting pushy behaviour from her father, Rick (voiced by Danny McBride). Meanwhile, Rick doesn’t realize that he’s overstepping Katie’s boundaries, not realizing the way to show respect for his daughter may be to give her the space she wants. The audience anticipates an eventual blow-up around this conflict between Rick and Katie, but it never really happens. On one hand, this subverts the expectation for a family movie. On the other hand, when communication plays such a prominent role within the plot, not acknowledging this is strange.
But, if we’re measuring the film on how consistently funny it is, The Mitchells vs. The Machines passes with flying colours. With quick-witted exchanges, playful visual gags (including a brief yet hilarious villainous toy), and satirical nods towards camp sci-fi, viewers are guaranteed to catch new jokes upon multiple rewatches. The sense of humour succeeds all the way through due to a team of superb and perfectly disguised voice ensemble, clever producers (including Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of The Lego Movie, as well as 21 and 22 Jump Street), and a pair of intelligent writers/directors (Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe) that show lots of promise for an exciting future in heartwarming comedies.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie