Hello, Spongey here.
Well, we’ve finally got another general review. It’s another one for a movie that was meant to be a theaters but now it’s not because pandemic. It’s one I’m pretty hyped for too. Sony Pictures animation has been riding high for people since Spider-Verse. But even before though it was clear they wanted to push what animation was capable of.
So in comes this, which is going to push that once again. Up front I should mention that yes, Phil Lord and Chris Miller are producers on it. People associate this with them as a result, and it is even marketed like that. But they aren’t the directors, or even the writers. The director is Mike Rianda, who previously worked on Gravity Falls. He is also a writer alongside Jeff Rowe, who worked on the show as well.
Just had to get that out there, it’s important. Anyway, the premise seemed pretty fun and it seemed appealing from the visuals alone. On a side note, it annoyed me when they changed the title to the more generic Connected…than changed it back affter I got used to the new title. Dang it.
Anyway, after all the delays Netflx just decided to buy it out. While I wish a movie like this was in theaters, at least I can get to it super easily. Hell, for the premiere they had a virtual one that any regular joe can can sign up for and watch it early on the Saturday beforehand. …I’m one of those people…but it can kind of bad on my end so I had to wait until the movie came out for real to write a review since it wouldn’t be fair to do this just based on this first experience. So I kinda watched it twice for this review. Hope that’s not unfair!
With all that said, does it live up to the hype? Let’s see.
This is, Mitchells Vs the Machines
When Katie Mitchell a creative outsider, is accepted into the film school of her dreams, her plans to meet “her people” at college are completely upended when her nature-loving dad plans for an ultimate family road tripHowever, Rick’s plan of getting all of them to truly bond as a family for one last time is suddenly interrupted by a tech uprising: With the help of two friendly malfunctioning robots, the Mitchells will have to get past their problems and work together to save the world.
This movie was really good. I will admit watching it more than once did give me an unfair advantage, as it allowed me to think it over more than with most things I do general reviews for. But even taking that aside, this was so much fun and had a lot going for it,.
Let’s the animation out of the way. SPA once brings a out a very cartoon-y art style that works well. The character animation is really fluid, and it allows for some good expressions. The actual designs are good too, I like the yes. It feels like it should be off putting but it works well.
They also add in these 2D touches, mostly brought on by Katie and her films, that give the look so much personality. And the movie certainly has a lot of that. To get the negatives out of the way, there are a couple bits that can be a bit too cliche for some. Although honestly by the end they were handled fairly well.
Katie being an outsider wasn’t too bad since it is balanced out with her finding peers online, thus we don’t have to go through her being mocked all the time. There’s a bit in the climax that is so standard for family movies and on the first watch it annoyed me. But those tech issues did skip make skip over a few bits around that portion that made me like it a bit more. The emotions in the following scene really worked, so even that wasn’t nearly as bad as in most movies like this.
It can have a couple rushed moments, like when the robot apocalypse actually begins. It can drag a bit in the third act and they really hammer in how much the Mitchells are not a normal a bit too much. These kind of family tends to have a problem with hammering in things like that too much and while the movie is good enough to overcome that, it is still there.
But those are fairly minor, some may let them bug them more but by the end I just didn’t care as each came with a positive anyway. Let’s focus on those positives now. First off, it’s pretty funny. I laughed hard a few times and a majority of jokes worked. It has its own brand of humor that was fun. It even made me laugh at getting hit in the groin joke, that is hard to do these days.
But the main reason the movie works is the family dynamic, as well as the characters in general. Katie is an immediately likable lead, with how she’s a big film nerd and creates her own movies. She was an outcast at school because kids don’t appreciate true art, but movies were always there for her. Wow, can’t relate.
She and dad don’t see eye to eye since he isn’t sure the arts will be a good focus for her. They do a really good job at making sure dad isn’t a dick about this. We see how much he loves his daughter even with they don’t agree on this big thing. There’s a moment early on that could have pushed him too far but it feels balanced enough. Especially later on as we find out more about him.
Each member has their quirks to make them memorable, like how the brother is into dinosaurs. I love how Katie and him actually get along, it’s very charming. Mom gets in some good moments too as she compares their family to this super perfect one and of course Maya Rudolph gets in some laughs.
They feel like a believable family, and that makes the emotional scenes hit well. They were fun to watch and really made this all works. Oh and there”s one aspect of Katie that was pretty great to see…although it is easy to miss until a blatant moment at the end. They could have pushed it more frankly but it’s a good step I suppose.
As for the whole phones thing, they actually handle it well. Frankly it was obvious from the trailers it would be more than phones bad which is the case. Dad is seen as at least a bit of touch for looking down on them, even as they satirize tech companies. That’s what makes it work, it goes after the shady practices they have instead of just being about “kids and their phones”
They also show the benefits of this tech in solid ways, and dad does come around. Also, Pal as voiced by Olivia Colman was a solid villain with a decent motive. So the tech satire works as well.
Overall, The Mitchells Vs the Machines just works really well. It has a few draggy moments and beats you over the head a tad too much. But otherwise it is very funny with great animation, a good heart and likable characters with a family I enjoyed following. It’s pretty well rounded by the end and even has a drawn out solid epilogue.
On first viewing I was back and forth with the rating but it went up upon getting to watch it properly. Again, an unfair advantage but I’d argue the issues with the stream did it a grave disservice.
Either way, it’s well worth checking out and I am glad Netflix picked it up. They’re Sony deal is starting out pretty well, I must say. SPA has another great winner on their hands for sure. Excited to see their upcoming slate from here.
Yep, a bit higher than even I expected but boy was I won over. I don’t care what picky things there may be, this was my jam. I’m not sure what’s next for general reviews, Vivo I guess, whenever that hits Netflix this summer? Hopefully it’s good either way.
…And yeah, that’s about it.