Over the past few years, it has become progressively clearer to me that I prefer animation over live-action. Movies like ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’, ‘Your Name’ and the ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ franchise had a far longer impression on me than any live-action film, at least not since ‘La La Land’ which is the only exception I’m willing to make. The point is that I get way more out of seeing animation work its magic than I do with a live-action movie. Throughout this pandemic, the movies I got the biggest kick out of were ‘Onward’ and ‘Soul’. It’s been ages since I’ve felt a genuine fascination with this medium but after watching ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’, it’s safe to say that it’s back for good.
mild spoilers for ‘the mitchells vs the machines’ are featured in this review.
In this ‘Zombieland’ meets ‘Inside Out’ concoction, director Michael Rianda introduces The Mitchells, a typical dysfunctional family who has one last chance to make things right with their oldest, Katie, before leaving for college. During their road-trip to Katie’s school, the world gets taken over by artificially intelligent robots and soon enough, The Mitchells are the last ones standing. Saying this is a great movie is a huge understatement, it is a gem in every possible way. I genuinely don’t know how this is possible but I think Sony Pictures Animation has become the most exciting animation studio in the west. ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’ is a consistently entertaining movie with tons of wit, personality and charm. This is what the entire past decade has built up to, an experimental CGI animated movie which turns it up to an eleven. This and ‘Spider-Verse’ have more personality in their opening scenes alone than most of what Walt Disney Animation has given us in the past five years and this is coming from someone who basically worships The Mouse House. Animation strives from experimentation and not enough studios realize that. The future of animation is being built by people who grew up as animation nerds like me, this new wave of movies we’re getting is the tip of the iceberg. Animation really couldn’t be in better hands.
‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’ is a very personal film for a lot of people, myself included. While there are a lot of families who fight sometimes, this movie tackles something deeper and more relatable. Of course, if you happen to be a creative gay teen, this movie will understandably have a bigger impact. There were times where I honestly couldn’t believe the movie I was watching because it depicted stuff I had never seen before. There’s a scene where the family blames Katie and Rick’s arguing because they hadn’t had a good picture taken in years. That one line hit a little too close to home. Just like Katie, me and my father don’t have the best of relationships, in fact, I had to remind myself not to get mad at the movie because it painted Katie’s Act 1 actions as bad. It felt so close to home that I had to remind myself that this actually isn’t my family and that Rick, a fictional character, doesn’t deserve to be tied to the emotional baggage I carry around regarding my actual father. I can safely say that I don’t think a movie has ever had this impact on me before. Seeing this movie wrap up the way that it did felt bittersweet purely for personal reasons. Sadly it was the one time where I was reminded that this was a fictional story. That being said, this movie also reminded me of my mother and brother whom I have great relationships with and while watching I kept gradually grew more eager to show this movie to them ASAP. It’s a great depiction of a realistic family and it’s deeply relatable in more ways than one.
Katie Mitchell has to honestly be one of my favourite protagonists ever. She is literally all of me personified as an animated character. Her creativity, love for movies and identity searching was incredibly relatable to me. When she felt like she was about to meet “her people”, it hit home once again because just like her and many other kids in this world, I didn’t feel like I belonged with the kids at school. There weren’t people who loved movies and animation the same way I did but as I grew older I eventually started to find my people. I can’t imagine the immensely positive impact this will have on millions of children around the world. Knowing that someday they will be understood precisely for who they are. On that note, Katie’s LGBTQIA+ representation has been a source of discourse online ever since the movie debuted and some of these opinions are honestly concerning. First off, I don’t believe that straight people should have an opinion on what good LGBTQIA+ representation is. Secondly, romance doesn’t need to be involved in a gay character’s storyline for them to count as true, valid representation. It’s honestly disappointing it has to be said in the first place.
Despite the movie having an emotional moment or two, in fact it has quite a lot of them and it surprised me to my core when I caught myself getting emotional. I didn’t think this would be that type of movie, I was not ready to cry my eyes out at 2 in the morning on my bed eating cereal but it sure as hell happened either way. The script has some really clever and emotionally effective callbacks and mini-revelations that just made me sob (but not too loudly because I share a room). It’s also one of those movies which is praised as being the funniest piece of entertainment on Planet Earth but for once, the praise is actually accurate. I genuinely did not expect to be laughing every five minutes. The wit of the script, the personality of the animation and the delivery from the actors made for some gut-bustingly hilarious moments which have immense replay value. This is genuinely one of the funniest movies I’ve seen and the best part is that the jokes keep on coming and they never fall flat.
Overall, ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’ is a genuine delight, it is easily the must-see movie of the year. Everything from the animation and the script to the voice-acting and direction is of superb quality. It is a goddamn shame that I couldn’t experience this in a packed theatre. I truly do hope families get a chance to discover this gem of a movie and experience it together. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed off to Amazon to buy the artbook!
‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’ is streaming globally on Netflix right now!