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The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Autistic movie enthusist, (the bio needs to be 60 characters long, so this is just filling up space)

Back in early March 2020, the trailer for an upcoming feature from Sony Pictures Animation titled Connected, was released to a lot of praise, and was set to be released in September of that year… Then everything else about 2020 happened, which at first resulted in the film being delayed to October, only for it to then get pulled from the schedule entirely. Then in January of this year Netflix bought the movie from Sony for a price of $110 million and changed the title of the movie (it was actually the original title before the trailer was released), with the film finally being released on April 30, did it live up to the hype?

Although the trailer for Mitchells vs. the Machines (or Connected as it was called at that point in time) was well-received, I was one of the few detractors of it. Generally, when animated movies tackle more modern topics such as smartphones, it goes one of two ways; 1. Old people complaining about how things were different in their day, or 2. Cringey pandering garbage, that is trying too hard to appeal to the audience with trends and references that will become extraordinarily dated within a few years time.

As a result, I was a little nervous when one of the first jokes of this movie references a YouTube video involving a screaming monkey. Fortunately however, Mitchells vs. the Machines expertly displays the cultural divide today between our technology obsessed youth, and the old-fashioned parents who are confused by the modern trends of today.

Said cultural divide is part of what drives the conflict between Katie and her father, as Katie is a filmmaker who makes all sorts of bizarre and surreal movies, that her more grounded father Rick (Danny McBride) doesn’t understand. The initial trailer was primarily centered on the dad, giving off the impression that this would be another film in which adults crap on technology; but the movie actually shows both sides of the relationship, which stops the characters from at any point ever becoming unlikeable.

Even though the daughter and father are the ones who get the most amount of screen time, the other members of the Mitchell family are still endearing nonetheless. On the flipslide from the un tech-savvy father, you have the social media obsessed mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), who is obsessed with a family called the Poseys (John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, & Charlyne Yi), who represent the perfect family, AKA, the opposite of the Mitchells..

Last but not least, you have the younger brother Aaron (Mike Rianda), who is the only real friend that Katie seems to have, as he too is an outcast, who is obsessed with dinosaurs. Although he’s not as important as the other characters, he ends up being one of the best parts thanks in part to his voice, which despite not sounding like a real child, helps capture his strange and manic personality.

The animation is also really gorgeous, with a look that is obviously still 3D animation, but with character designs and textures that almost resemble 2D animation at times as well. Speaking of which, there is on occasion various 2D effects and graphics that pop on the screen, similar to the graphics that pop up in the movies that the Katie character makes.

Easily what makes this movie though, aside from its commentary on social media, and family relationships is the humor; even though Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and The Lego Movie) are only listed as producers, the film has a style of humor that feels directly inspired by them. Gags come at you a mile a minute, ranging from verbal, to slapstick, to visual within mere seconds of each other; easily the highlight of the movie is when the Mitchells end up at inside of a mall and get attacked by all sorts of household appliances (I kind of don’t want to give away where the joke goes).

The only issue that I ostensibly have with the movie is its runtime. The film is almost 2 hours long, when most other movies like this would usually run at 90 minutes. The climax in particular takes up a large chunk of the film, and while I never stopped enjoying myself during said climax, I still felt like some scenes could’ve been cut out, to help make the movie flow better.


Conclusion:

In spite of its runtime, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a humorous and sweet film about the current cultural divide that we face today. With memorable characters, and gags every couple of seconds, families will get an absolute kick out of this movie, and the kids who grow up will most likely remember it as a beloved classic.


Score: 8/10

© 2021 Matthew Hunter

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