'The Mitchells vs. the Machines' - Movie Review

Netflix really felt I should see this - but then, they feel that way about all their new movies. It looked stupid, so I passed it by. But two things changed my mind: Rotten Tomatoes (97%) and the involvement of Lord and Miller. They were producers rather than directors in this case, but if there's one thing Phil Lord and Chris Miller are good at, it's insane goofiness. And I mean really good at, as the directors of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and producers of "Into the Spiderverse," they're pretty much the best team in animation in North America right now.

Our heroine is Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), a young woman about to head off to film school on the other side of the continent from her parents who don't understand her. She and her much younger brother have a connection though. We see several of her utterly ridiculous and very meta (but somewhat funny) short films during the the running time of the movie, and she often visualizes her current reality as films. Katie's father cancels her plane ticket to take her to her new school, instead turning it into a family road trip - to her complete horror. Shortly thereafter, a much goofier vision of Skynet takes over the world, and this dysfunctional family that can't agree on lunch is required to save the world.

My biggest problem with the movie (not a huge one) was director Mike Rianda's choice to voice young son Aaron Mitchell himself. I'm usually not very picky about voices in animated movies, but this one stood out: it's a very strange voice, but most assuredly sounded like that of an adult, not an eight- or ten-year-old.

The surreality and the ludicrous energy of this movie are very similar to "Cloudy" - it's unsurprising that Lord and Miller took an interest (or did they shape it?). But it's not as good as Lord and Miller's best. Don't get me wrong: it was funny, crazy, and enjoyable. But in their best efforts, Lord and Miller push the crazy as far as this one does - and yet come back with more emotional truth than this managed to muster. Nevertheless, a decent way to spend an evening.