The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)

This film ended up on my good side with one of the opening quotes: “Every family has its challenges. From picture day to picky eaters. For my family our greatest challenge? probably the machine apocalypse.”. It then follows it with “i did what any outsider would do, made weird art”. A film which shows film-making not as a “I want to be Scorsese and important” but sometimes “I need to make some stuff”. It’s about film-making not as a way to showcase something or to make a point, but because you can’t not do it.

Truth be told, it was in my good graces from when I first saw the trailer. It looked unique and weird, but there was a slight concern that it would basically be “Technology bad! Old way good!” boomer bullshit. I should have known by the writing talent that it would be a lot better than that. The script is mostly incredibly smart, with believable characters and great scenes. I mean, it features a scene where a kid phones up everybody in the phone book and asks if they want to talk about dinosaurs, what’s not to love about that? It’s really weird, but the kind of weirdness that seems natural for certain kids to do.

Like I said, they NAIL the character work here. Everybody seems to have their own motivations. You could read the script with all the names blanked out, and automatically know who each character is due to how differently defined they are. That’s for the ones we see anyway. There is another family, the archetypical “perfect” family who are their neighbours/friendly rivals. Here’s one thing I think the film could have improved upon. The other family are not featured in it enough. It would have been entertaining to see them in it too. There’s a moment where they use teamwork to escape the initial attack, they then get captured later. Would have been better if throughout the film, whenever we see the Mitchell family struggling, the other family are coping easily. Yes, it would have meant the main characters aren’t the only ones to escape, but that shouldn’t have been the case anyway. When you watch Shaun Of The Dead, the main group aren’t the only ones in the world fighting back, and it makes it seem like it exists in the world. The story is driving the family, rather than the other way around, which is what it feels like in this. It’s a real shame as there was potential for those characters to be involved in a way that really developed the story.

Now onto my next negative point: the animation. This is just personal opinion, and it might just be the way I watched it, but it just seemed a bit….off. There’s a weird texture on everything. It reminded me of the way that The Wolf Among Us was animated, mixed with “taking your glasses off while watching a 3D movie”. Really weird and made it kind of hard to enjoy at times.

I know that sounds like I’m being negative, but there was a lot to enjoy. The dialogue is hilarious at times, the voice acting is great (Olivia Colman is obviously having a lot of fun), and it’s so emotional it seems like a Pixar film at times. I would have liked to see it at the cinema, but I suppose the fact it’s available on netflix means you can all watch it. Not now, when I’ve finished review.

The film is good.

NOW you can see it.

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