Think of The Mitchells vs. The Machines as Her meets The Terminator in this all new star-studded comedy launching on Netflix.
The Mitchells are an ordinary family doing ordinary things. They’re certainly like any other family. And yet, they’re going to find themselves having to save the world during the robot apocalypse (Ted Moseby voice: Kids, nobody ever learned anything while watching The Terminator). Anybody with a love of film will also find themselves resonating with Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson). Katie is one of us and has a lengthy list of reels to show for it. Moreover, please pay attention to he room and clothing choices! She fits in with her fellow future film school students. Right before the robot takeover, Katie was arguing with her parents about missing her college orientation. The Mitchells wanted one last road trip together. What nobody expected is what happens next.
PAL Labs founder and tech millionaire Mark Bowman (Eric Andre) is a Steve Jobs type. He’s also not a villain in this situation. He just happens to be very ambitious. Shortly after introducing the next generation of PAL (Olivia Colman), the PAL Max robots (Beck Bennett), things turn sour rather fast. They start an uprising. Anything with a PAL chip is now at war with humans. Smart phones, roombas, and even the cute Furbys! There’s no Beebo to protect and save humanity. It’s all up to the Mitchells of all people to save the day. They are, in all honest, the people we would expect. No superhero is coming to rescue them. Again, did nobody bother to pay attention to The Terminator? I mean, the warning is right in front of us!
Oscar winner Olivia Colman also crushes it in her portrayal of smartphone PAL. She brings a very different approach to playing a phone than Scarlett Johansson did in Her. You can find yourself being amused in one moment while being super scared the next. And to think that the filmmakers thought they lost any opportunity in casting Colman upon winning the Oscar! If this is what she does in voicing a phone, I can’t wait to see what she brings to Marvel’s Secret Invasion!
Regarding the rest of the cast, it’s star-studded. There’s no question about this. Abbi Jacobson is amazingly talented and funny but I can’t help but think about whether an incoming college freshman should be played by someone closer to the age. If this were a live-action film, filmmakers couldn’t get away with this type of casting. I’m not sure if this kind of conversation has come to the world of animation but it’s something to think about. I mean, I can buy into the idea of Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph playing parents of a college freshman. It’s a conversation to have in the long-term but it doesn’t change my love of the film and the message it sends to viewers.
Ultimately, there’s a message in watching this movie. Even with our technological obsessions surrounding us, our family–biological or chosen–is who we depend on with tragedy strikes. Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t create a phone that wants to takeover the world right after you decide to dump it. That would be some good advice, too.
In a perfect world, The Mitchells vs. The Machines could have been an Oscar contender last year. But alas, the pandemic forced Sony to delay and later unload onto Netflix. I would certainly have loved nothing more than to have seen this awesome action-comedy on the big screen. Instead, I’ll just have to settle for my television. It might not have contended last year but rest assured, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is already a strong awards contender for this year.
DIRECTOR: Mike Rianda
CO-DIRECTOR: Jeff Rowe
SCREENWRITERS: Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe
CAST: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien, Doug the Pug, Sasheer Zamata, Elle Mills, Alex Hirsch, Jay Pharoah