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THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES review

THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES (hereafter simply referred to as “MITCHELLS”) is directed by Mike Rianda; it’s his directorial debut. The movie features the voices of Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, and Conan O'Brien. The film was originally planned for a theatrical release, but was instead released via Netflix due to the current pandemic in the world.

Katie Mitchell has always been an eccentric young lady, and quite distanced from her family despite their love. She regularly clashes with her father, an outdoors type who is the extreme opposite as her, who always seems to spoil special occasions for Katie. Wanting to make amends and trying to mend his relationship with his dysfunctional technology-obsessed family, he decides to do a surprise road trip to take Katie to college, much to her surprise and dismay. But things take an unexpected turn when a technology giant introduces new products, only to have them go bersek, declaring war on and capturing humans to create a more perfect world. It’s up to the Mitchells to take matters into their own hands, coming together despite their differences to help their fellow human beings.

CGI animated films have become commonplace in today’s world. They’re inevitable, and certainly hit and miss in their execution. The last thing I would’ve expected about a movie like MITCHELLS is that it would be funny, heartwarming, and shockingly relevant. But it proved to be all of those things and then some, despite my initial pessimism. The voice cast and production crew are fantastic, with the movie ascending to be my favorite animated feature of 2021, beating out even releases from the likes of Disney and Pixar. Aside from some pacing issues and the film getting a bit too busy at times, it’s fantastic and deserves to be seen.

The Mitchell Family, despite their obvious flaws, over-reliance on technology, and dysfunctional nature, instantly become lovable characters that any viewer will be more than happy to spend two hours with. Katie in particular stands out as a strong heroine, uncertain of her future and dreading a car trip with her woodsman father, of whom she’s the complete opposite. Dad wants his family to get out and enjoy nature, but they’d rather be glued to their phones; Dad's attempts to curb the family of technology for defined periods of time are disastrously hilarious. Seeing the drama and the more comedic moments unfold here hits close to home, and the writers certainly knew how to create relatable characters; the movie's tone is very funny but also hits the right dramatic buttons along the way.

The satirical angle regarding society relying too heavily on technology makes for a major component of this film, and you’ll be thrilled with what the writers here do with it. What does humanity do when the very technology it created to make lives easier turns against them and is no longer on their side? These aren’t exactly new elements explored in a feature film, but MITCHELLS does it better than most, action-packed and dramatic while still quite hilarious. You’ll sympathize with our heroes, but the movie’s breakneck speed and in-your-face approach keeps the laughs coming despite it all.

The look of the film is bright, bold, colorful, and will keep the eyes of young and old glued to the screen. It’s an amazing looking and very “full” film that never lets up; there’s always something going on and you won’t want to look away. The only place the movie generally falters is in its pacing; with a running time of just under two hours it’s about 15 minutes too long, yet I won’t deny the filmmakers manage to cram a lot in that kept me interested.

THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES is the best animated film of 2021, easily outdoing productions from other major animation studios, which is no simple task. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, action packed, and shockingly relevant! That this skipped over theaters due to the pandemic is a shame, but those with a Netflix subscription should set aside the time to watch this one. It’s great for the whole family, young and old alike!

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