The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021) Review

The best movies could put the characters in any situation and you would still be engrossed. If you’ve written your character well enough, you should be able to watch them shopping and it would be interesting. This is exactly the case for The Mitchell family in The Mitchells vs The Machines. If you took away the robot apocalypse that the family find themselves caught up in, the movie would still be very good. In fact, it could even be better.

That’s because the family has such a great identity. They feel authentic and the characters do not feel forced. They are a loving family who are trying to support their college bound daughter. Like many people, even those coming from supportive families, daughter Abbi doesn’t feel supported. Instead she feels like she has outgrown her embarrassing family, particularly her Dad, played by Danny McBride. In an attempt to fix this, Dad Rick cancels his daughter’s flight plans and instead hijacks the trip and turns into a family road trip.

So far, so ordinary but this is the beauty of the movie because the characters likeable without forcing the comedy or relying on cliché. Their reasoning and actions are all realistic and justified and the comedy, of which there is plenty, comes from the many misunderstandings or call-backs to family experiences we get through flashback. There is a clear chemistry and the family are written so well that if it was just a movie about a disastrous road trip, then it would still work.

This is part because the film has such a unique identity. Animation means no limitations so this movie uses that to throw unique art styles, cool flashbacks and inventive ways of showing the thoughts of characters. These moments are very funny and make the film stand-out from others that may tell this story in a more pedestrian way.

It also means the film can be very funny. From visual gags, very funny dialogue and well written situations or long-running call-backs, the movie is hilarious throughout. There are even jokes which either don’t pay-off until well into the movie or because of the root of the gag, continue to pay-off throughout. It makes you like the family even more.

Which is why its a shame that the second part of the story, the robot apocalypse that The Mitchells find themselves almost sole survivors of, means some of the best aspects are stripped away. Once the apocalypse elements of the story kicks-in, there is less room for the chemistry and the jokes. There are still moments and the idea of a Dad fighting technology he can’t use or robots being confused by the family dog, comes with some very inventive scenes, but it highlights how The Mitchells and their story is really the star of the movie.

To prove how much the film would work without the robotic distraction, the moral and character growth elements of the movie still work without them. There is a great heart to this film and although its obvious what the family need to do to move forward, its not written in such a way that it will feel forced or too predictable. In fact, you’ll be happy the family get the resolution they deserve.

Overall, The Mitchells vs The Machines is a great animated movie which puts a well-written and very funny family front and centre. They are a quirky, realistic and likeable bunch, which means you want to join them on their journey. In fact, the apocalypse element of the movie is more of a distraction than a vital plot element and you could argue the film would be better without it.

Rating – 4

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

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