The Mitchells vs. the Machines is expected to be Netflix’s top film release of the year. In the past twenty-two days since its release, it has gone viral and surpassed the platform’s top film, Thunder Force. Sony Animation Studios has been on fire since its hit Lego Movie release. The studio managed to exceed our expectations when they had Miles Morales swing into the public eye in the beautifully animated and rendered Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Now Sony has managed to win over our hearts with the Mitchell family.
Honestly, the best thing about The Mitchells vs. the Machines? It was the pug. Monchi. Monchi is who we should aspire to be as human individuals. With that said, I could simply go on about the amazing animation. I could proceed to talk about how great the cast is. Even more so, I could rave about the nonstop laughs that had my partner and I giggling like school children. However, I think this film deserves so much more than that. It was quite simply the film that we millennials, gen z, and beyond needed. We have so desperately needed this film.
Meet the Mitchells
The story follows the Mitchell family. The lead protagonist is Katie (Abi Jacobson), an aspiring filmmaker who is about to go away to college in California. Katie plans of escaping her overly protective and seemingly unsupportive father, Rick (Danny McBride), in the hopes of finding a sense of belonging at her new film school. Her plans are dashed, when Rick decides to cancel her flight from Michigan, and drive cross country to deliver Katie to school, himself, in the hopes of reconnecting with her.
Joining Katie and Rick is her brother, Aaron (voiced by the film’s director Michael Rianda) who is obsessed with dinosaurs; her positivity-inducing elementary teacher mother, Linda (Maya Rudolph); and Monchi (no description necessary). Their cross-country trip is soon dashed…or more so, interrupted, when the machine apocalypse ensues. The family soon finds themselves as the last humans on Earth. They must figure out how to survive and band together…and maybe attempt to save the human race.
Blurring Reality and Fiction…and Machines
To compound the machine apocalyptic scenario further is that the Mitchells bring very relatable developments to the table. Katie is experiencing the reality that she may not have a future or find a place of belonging. Not to mention her world is collapsing around her. Aaron is lonely and thinks nobody will understand him as his sister does, and losing her means he is losing his only friend and confidant. Linda is self-conscious and constantly compares herself to her “perfect neighbors”. She is scared of Katie estranging herself from herself and her husband, Rick, and is constantly trying to keep the peace and the illusion of a “perfect” family. Rick is old-fashioned, and anti-technology, and most likely anti-change. He is scared for Katie’s untraditional aspirations and wants her to play it safe. This causes Rick and Katie to bash heads and misunderstand each other.
The machines taking over Earth serve as our worst fears realized, the loss of resolution in regards to our lives, loss of purpose due to hopelessness, and an impending sense of, “maybe this is it.” Interestingly enough, the robots/machines serve as the catalyst that brings the family together. It essentially brings them to the conclusion, “screw it, let’s just do this anyway because we really don’t have much to lose at this point”. In the end, it proves that the best thing we have in this world is “our people”.
Turning Fear into Comfort
In The Mitchells vs. the Machines, the conflicts, especially internal, are highly relatable to all of us. The fears we have when we don’t feel in control of anything in our lives and how scary and vulnerable only scratches the surface. It touches on what helps to keep us going when we have lost everything. Yes, that thing could be “your people”, or it could be inner strength that you didn’t know you had in the first place, that can serve as a propeller too. It touches on these things and in a time of precariousness (which seems to be basically every year since the dawn of man) we need these reassurances so we don’t feel alone in a modern society that connects us easily together digitally but keeps us feeling further apart in reality.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines compounds the gamut of emotions and experiences in regards to hopes, fears, wants, and needs that we have as a collective species. It has consoled us through nostalgia and conquering impossible odds against a future that just seems uncertain to us. We see this through finding peace and stability through economic crises, not being seen, not being heard, and feeling like your weird self just does not belong; The Mitchells vs. the Machines has managed to take our collective fear and make us brave for exactly one hour and fifty-four minutes and two seconds. This movie was not quite simply a pleasure, it was a comfort.
- Amazing animation
- Good character development
- Great cast
- A lot of references that are relatable
- Touches on deep concepts for a family film (ie: diversity, mental health, economy, and what it means to be human)
- The story is predictable (but I can't truly find fault in that, due to its great delivery)