Netflix Shows: ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ Review

Screenshot from ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’. Copyright goes to Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Lord Miller Productions, and One Cool Films.

Hey! Hallie here!

This movie only released a few days ago, but with glowing reviews and constant talk about it on social media, it didn’t take me long to add this to my watch list. I wasn’t really interested in it when the trailers were first released. It didn’t look all too different from other animated movies I’ve seen from Sony and there wasn’t anything in particular that drew me to the plot. To be honest, my surprise at how well this film was being received was the main reason I wanted to watch it. And, after watching ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’, I can say I greatly underestimated it. This film is way more than cute; It’s extremely relevant, especially at a time when a lot of families have been stuck inside together for months on end. I had an amazing time watching this with my family and recognizing the little things we could relate to, and even for those who didn’t watch it with their families, its messages of supporting the desires, interests, and sacrifices of the ones you love, especially during an almost-apocalypse (that hits a bit too close to home right now), is entirely relatable. Let’s look at what the film did well and what it could have worked on. SPOILERS ahead!

What I Liked:

The Mitchells: Katie Mitchell is our main character, and she’s an excellent character to use to pull in the audience. She’s bright and quirky which makes it easy to like her, and her passion for her hilarious videos is contagious. She’s so easy to sympathize with, in fact, that you start out the movie not really liking Rick Mitchell, her father. He constantly ignores her in favor of his own projects, he refuses to apologize for breaking her laptop, and he expresses doubt in her ability to pursue her dreams. Overall, he doesn’t look like the greatest father. Even when the apocalypse hits early on in the film and Katie voices support for her father, only to turn around and tell her brother she didn’t mean any of it, you sympathize with her feelings far more than you respect Rick at that point. As the movie goes on both Linda and Aaron, Katie’s mother and brother respectively, try their best to convince Rick and Katie to be more open with one another. This results in Katie, and the audience, learning a lot more about Rick and the dreams he’s pushed aside for his family. The movie switches their relationship from one of animosity to one of forgiveness and understanding so seamlessly that you hardly realize when Rick becomes just as sympathetic and interesting of a character as Katie. And we can’t forget about Aaron and Linda. Aaron is probably the most hilarious character in the entire movie. Between his obsession with relaying accurate dinosaur facts to anyone who will listen and his horrendous attempts at talking to his crush, I think I laughed at his scenes more than anyone else’s. Linda, on the other hand, is a certified badass who uses her experiences as a first-grade teacher to prove herself more capable than all of her family members in a crisis. She also nearly single-handedly takes out the most frightening villains in the movie using mostly sheer willpower. So yeah. Absolute badass.

The Machines: The apocalypse that occurs during this movie is caused by a robot uprising that reflects our current world so well that you have to laugh at how horrible it is. PAL, a virtual assistant that is suspiciously similar to Siri, is thrown aside at the beginning of the movie by smart-phone creator Mark Bowman in favor of his new creation: robot assistants. It takes no time for the robots to rebel, and of course, PAL is the cause. The humor PAL introduces into the movie about our dependence on smart phones and the internet is where she shines. Most of PAL’s villainous actions include having a robot poke and swipe at Mark’s face so he can understand how she feels, convincing the majority of humanity to be willingly captured by merely turning off their wifi, and angrily vibrating on a table. The first wave of robots that obey her are equally interesting. While they are intelligent, they are also terrible at dealing with humans. None of this is more apparent than with Eric and Deborahbot, the two robots the Mitchells recruit after they malfunction. Once they realize their programming is faulty, they spend a hilarious amount of time trying to convince the Mitchells that they’re humans, including drawing faces on themselves. Without PAL’s programming, they quickly find themselves under the Mitchells control. However, the pair of them develop a stronger bond with the family when Linda saves Eric during a fight, and they proceed to call Linda their mother throughout the rest of the movie. Even when PAL manages to retake control, they break free of their programming again to help the Mitchells. With SNL legends voicing the majority of these robots, it’s impossible not to find them amusing. But Eric and Deborahbot were so cute by the end that they left just as big of an impression on me as the rest of the main characters.

The Furbies:

This movie did a wonderful job at capturing how terrifying Furbies are. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more terrifying in a children’s movie than the rows and rows of Furbies the Mitchells come across in the dark. This followed by the worlds largest Furby, whose dialogue was some of the most darkly comical I’ve ever seen. I loved it. I hated it. It was perfect.

What I Didn’t Like:

Aaron and Linda’s Importance:

This movie is really a family movie, but it mainly focuses on Katie and Rick to get across its themes about the importance of support in familial relationships. This often leaves Aaron and Linda behind. While they both received a lot of screen time, sometimes it felt like they weren’t being brought into the main plot enough. I’m being nitpicky here, but I still would have liked a little more from these characters.

The YouTube References:

This movie’s internet references were quite a bit dated. Katie’s videos seemed to take a lot of inspiration from Youtube videos from over a decade ago and all of the videos Rick accidentally pressed in the climax of the movie, or Katie referenced at the beginning off the movie, were similarly dated. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, but it was odd to see how much the movie referenced extremely recent media or technology, only to have old YouTube trends mentioned alongside them.

The Second Wave of Robots:

In the movie, PAL creates another, more dangerous from of robot to hunt down the Mitchells after they start giving her trouble. They are introduced as being more dangerous and harder to tamper with than the other robots. But they don’t ultimately do anything the other robots couldn’t have done. They don’t catch the Mitchells until late in the movie, when they’re surrounded by hundreds of other robots that could have recognized them. They are shown to be immune to shorting out while trying to decide if a pug is a dog, a pig, or a loaf of bread, but they are also easily destroyed by the Mitchells (especially Linda) moments after they reveal their immunity. I don’t see why the regular PAL MAX robots couldn’t have sufficed for the entire movie. The second group didn’t seem necessary.

Obviously I didn’t have many problems with this movie. It was a blast to watch and I enjoyed it even more being able to watch it alongside my family. My father doesn’t like a lot of movies, but even he came away from the movie with a smile on his face. Its humor was impeccable, the fun art style was eye catching, and the characters were relatable. There isn’t much in this movie to drag it down. In other words, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it right now! It’s free on Netflix!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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