Over this past weekend, I finally got to the highly recommended The Mitchell’s Vs The Machines. A film created by much of the Into The Spiderverse team. The story follows the relationship of the Mitchell family. A quirky mess of a family, including a well meaning mother with a deep love for her kids, and making awful cupcakes. A nerdy brother with a love for dinosaurs, and of course, their possibly dog, possibly pig, Monchi. And of course we can’t forget who the story mainly centers around, Katie, an artist who wants to make films and has recently been accepted into film school, and her well meaning father, who doesn’t understand her, and worries her dream won’t be enough to support her.
The film follows these two, as you see they once had a fantastic relationship, but seemed to grow apart due to their inability to understand one another. Katie is fun and outgoing, she loves to create art, and loves her electronics, and the internet. Her father on the other hand loves the outdoors, hunting, building and hates all things electronic.
This all gets turned on their head, and they’re forced to look at one another differently when the robot apocalypse strikes. The family must learn how to come together, and save the world. Will their differences make them stronger? Or just blow up in their face?
I must say this film impressed me like no other in a long time. It was uproariously funny, but was jam-packed full of heart. Something I have often found most films struggle with. Often either cheapening heartfelt moments for the sake of comedy, or forgetting their comedy for the heartfelt. This film never did that. No heartfelt moment was undercut by comedy, instead it was enhanced by it. The comedy and heart of this film are intrinsically tied. Making for a wonderful film you’ll want to watch again and again.
The Mitchells, despite being cartoons felt very real. A chaotic messy family, that loves each other, but sometimes struggles with how to show it. And throughout the movie we watch as they struggle with things most of us can relate to, as well as learning and adapting along the way. “Changing their coding” if you will. Not a single character doesn’t experience some kind of character development. Right down to the dog, this films biggest theme is we can always choose to change, to see things from a different perspective. It’s never too late. Even if it does require the apocalypse first.
And I must of course praise this film for its representation as well. Katie is clearly queer, but its never something the film goes out of its way to explain, and it never becomes a reason for why she struggles with her family. She simply is, and its completely accepted, which was refreshing to see, I must say.
And although not inherently queer, slight spoiler alert here, I did love how they handled two robot characters, who at some point choose names and decide to join the family, and are readily accepted, at no point does anyone stumble over their names, or question their place in the family. They’re simply accepted. Something about that felt refreshing as well.
Ultimately, there is only one critique I can find for this film, and that is the fact that sometimes the animators straight up forgot to animate some characters if they weren’t actively speaking. Honestly, not a big deal in my eyes, but it was enough to make me concerned someone had been left behind.
That being said, the animation was still fantastic. Combining 3D animation with a more 2D style to show Katie’s thoughts and feelings I thought was genius.
Aside from that, there is nothing else I can say about this film. The Spiderverse team outdid themselves. It was genuinely hilarious, and incredibly moving. I would recommend it to anyone, whether you have a family like the Mitchell’s yourself, whether young or old, I am quite sure you will find at least something to enjoy from this film.
This is Rev, signing off.
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