‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ Review: When Bots Attack

Nothing says “family bonding” like a road trip through a robot apocalypse. At least that’s the case for the Mitchells in the quirky and riotously funny Netflix animated film “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), a movie buff with a lengthy filmography of YouTube videos, is heading off to college to find “her people”: fellow tech-savvy, meme-loving cinephiles. She clashes with her nature-obsessed father, Rick (Danny McBride), who pitches Katie a last-minute family road-trip to her school along with Linda (Maya Rudolph), Katie’s aggressively positive mother; Aaron (Mike Rianda), Katie’s dinosaur-obsessed little brother; and Monchi, their chunky walleyed pug.

As the family embarks on its awkward journey, a well-meaning tech genius in Silicon Valley introduces a device upgrade that leads to a robot takeover, à la “I, Robot,” that only the Mitchells can stop. Think “The Incredibles” — but instead of a family of heroes, here’s a family of lovable kooks who face threatening toasters, evil vending machines and demonic Furbys.

Directed by Mike Rianda and written by Rianda and Jeff Rowe, who both worked on the beloved series “Gravity Falls,” “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” not only has laughably eccentric characters but also a script packed with bonkers, fast-paced action — with elaborate, wild visuals to match. The film combines pristine digital animation with live-action images and 2D drawings — interjections from Katie, who serves as both our narrator and director, imaginatively revising and annotating the story as she tells it. That, along with the seemingly endless number of movie references and hidden gags, makes a film with not just laughs (though, believe me, there are plenty of those) but a clear, well-formed identity.

You think your family’s wacky? Just take a trip with the Mitchells — they’ll show you that weirdos have all of the fun.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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