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‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’ review: Animated gem outside the Spider-Verse

Heartwarming and exciting.

The Mitchells vs the Machines is a new animated film from Netflix that deals with an issue that is a legitimate fear for some. Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is about to start her first year of film school. The family decides this is also the perfect opportunity for a road trip. Unfortunately, the world’s electronic devices have also chosen this moment to take over the world. It is up to the Mitchells and some new friends to prevent a machine apocalypse. 

The plot may be  over the top, but the characters are surprisingly grounded. End of the world films are littered with normal people who have to reach down to prevent total annihilation. None as ever done it as well as The Mitchells vs the Machines. The titular family is so…ordinary. 

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Standard should not be confused with boring, however. The Mitchells are as dysfunctional as any other family. Everyone seems caught up in their own lives and the family matriarch Rick (Danny McBride) has decided the road trip is a great way to bring the unit back together.

It is a familiar set up (The Mitchells vs the Machines does have a tendency to fall back on tropes) that works thanks to the fantastic writing. There are plenty of jokes and references that will please audiences. More important, are the characterizations. Everyone in the film – human, canine, or mechanical – is engaging. Things move at a breakneck pace at times, but the emotional context is never lost.

 This is partially due to the strong voice work. Along with Jacobson and McBride, Maya Rudolph, Olivia Colman, and Eric Andre lend their talents to The Mitchells vs the Machines. Due to the premise, the characters can easily fall into clichés. Thanks to the cast, this is never an issue.

 

Since the production team boast a resume that includes The Lego Movie and Into the Spider-Verse, the expectations will be high for how the finished product looks. Going into any movie with presumptions usually leads to disappointment. That is not the case with The Mitchells vs the Machines.

The stylish animation pops off the screen as it integrates CGI and 2D in a wonderful blend. The Mitchells vs the Machines is almost too much at times. It attacks audiences from all directions and is filled with an anarchic fun that is as refreshing as it is chaotic.

The Mitchells vs the Machines premieres on Netflix April 30

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