Young Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) embarks on a road trip with her proud parents, younger brother, and beloved dog to start her first year at film school. But their plans to bond as a family soon get interrupted when the world’s electronic devices come to life to stage an uprising. With help from two friendly robots, the Mitchells must now come together to save one another — and the planet — from the new technological revolution.
In the early-to-mid 2010s, Sony Pictures Animation was a studio that was almost universally hated. Their animation style was always terrific but the films that they released were almost widely regarded as weak, unfunny, and featured bland stories that not too many kids would even enjoy. Their target audience.
I mean, did anybody seriously ask for those god-awful Smurfs films starring Neil Patrick Harris? I’m willing to bet the answer to that is no. The Hotel Transylvania series can be quite fun, but they’re not typically regarded as amazing or anything. They’re just fun, cute little adventures that will perhaps take your mind off of things for an hour and a half, but that’s about it.
However, audiences started to take the studio giant a lot more seriously in 2018 after they released the phenomenal Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which took the world by storm with its gorgeous animation style, excellent characters with depth and emotion, and an epic twist on a Spider-Man tale. Because of how well that film was received, they are already working on follow-ups and we can only hope that they will be as good as the one that started it all.
Well, folks, I am beyond joyed to report that their latest effort The Mitchells vs. the Machines is yet another outstanding victory for Sony Pictures Animation. From the moment it starts all the way to the very last minute, this is a film that is so outrageously weird, funny, and vibrant and it genuinely embraces it to the max. It’s a film that fires on all cylinders and never holds anything back. From amazing references to pop culture memes and a gigantic Furby, there’s truly never a scene in Mitchells that isn’t entertaining or meaningful. Even a scene that might come across as a one-off joke may come back later and be more significant than you previously thought.
It’s the definition of a feel-good family comedy that also delivers the goods when it comes to the emotional elements. Katie Mitchell is essentially a child prodigy when it comes to filmmaking. She’s been making fun little short films with her brother and dog ever since her toddler years and she knows that the film industry is where she belongs. She knows that it is calling to her.
But her parents are a little bit skeptical as to whether or not this is a good choice for Katie because, while they recognize that she has a lot of ambition and talent, they just don’t want her to fail. They go about explaining this to her in the wrong way which sort of causes a bit of a falling out with her and her parents.
Along the way, we slowly start to see this family’s relationship start to blossom again and it was such a heartwarming thing to witness. I genuinely think it’s nearly impossible to watch this movie and not smile at least two or three times. I, personally, had a huge smile spread across my face throughout the entire duration of the film simply because it connected with me so deeply. Not only do I relate to Katie as a character, but I felt sympathy for her every time something bad happened. And, as I said, the family dynamic on display here is wonderful.
Since this is a Sony Pictures Animation project, you can certainly expect Mitchells to feature gorgeous animation. It’s easily the best-looking film of the year so far and is absolutely loaded with eye-popping imagery that is so hard to forget. It’s also just crazy to sit down and think about the fact that a team of extremely talented people worked on this film and were responsible for creating all the locations, animations on the character’s faces, etc. It must have taken them such a long time to bring this wild world to life, but they did it in mesmerizing fashion.
A lot of us are still at home with nothing to do, but gratefully, we have plenty of amazing choices for films and television shows to watch to keep us busy. And if you are looking for something terrific to watch this weekend, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is absolutely the best viewing option out there in 2021 so far.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: PG for action and some language
Directed by: Mike Rianda
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Running Time: 113 minutes