THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES
Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, and Charlyne Yi
Directors: Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Mirroring producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller's signature combo of heart and self-aware humor, writer/director duo Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe's The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a refreshingly laugh-out-loud good time. Scenes range from hysterically absurd to warmly tear-jerking, which helps prevent the repetitive meta-humor and familiar themes of world-ending artificial intelligence and strained parent-child relationships from becoming stale. Add eye-popping animation with a pitch-perfect voice cast (Olivia Colman's pocket sized personal assistant Pal may go down as an all-time animated character), and you get 2021's first contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is the type of movie that sneaks up on you. It's a little scattershot, pinballing from somewhat heavy-handed heartfelt moments to frenetic action scenes in the blink of an eye, all while sprinkling in some clever social commentary. As you watch, you're enjoying yourself, but you aren't blown away - a chuckle here, a twinge of excitement there - until you reach the end, which is when you realize it has surprisingly and genuinely hit you right in the feels. It becomes out-of-nowhere great, giving Sony and Netflix a film that easily rivals many Pixar movies.
I cannot stress enough how beautiful the animation is in The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Thanks to a witty and timely script, as well as some dazzling visuals, the film manages to own a premise that isn't at all unique. It also uses humor to pay homage to internet and meme culture in some great ways. Along with that, the film is incredibly heartfelt, portraying a family that is a little more complicated than you typically see in family films. All in all, check it out! It's fun for all ages.
Though less balanced than Into the Spider-Verse or the first two Lego movies. The Mitchells vs. The Machines puts yet another notch in producers Lord & Miller's victory belt. There are some scenes where dialogue or the characters could have used a polish, plus some minor plot holes, but the beautiful animation and earnest storytelling do plenty of heavy lifting. The trademark Lord & Miller humor isn't quite as sharp as usual, but it gets the job done. Having a queer film nerd protagonist in an animated movie is pretty sweet too. I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who asked.