The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

MICHAEL RIANDA, JEFF ROWE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

United States//, 2021. , , , . Screenplay by Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe, story consultant . Produced by , , . Music by . Production Design by . Film Editing by .

The heartfelt tone with which this story is told, emphasizing not just tolerance but adoration for outsiders and original thinkers, can do little to help how passe its plot feels, a pale retread of The Incredibles with a dash of a National Lampoon movie thrown in. The Mitchells are a family of misfits, their house always a few seconds away from major disaster, and among them their eldest daughter Katie () has the hardest time finding her place. Her passion is filmmaking and she loves to make adorable DIY action adventures starring her complaisant dog, which have gained some underground popularity online but are not appreciated by her father Rick (). He has trouble connecting with his daughter but refuses to acknowledge that there’s a problem, then when it comes time for Katie to move away to college and finally get away from the family that she believes is holding her back, he comes up with the brilliant idea of the whole family driving across the country to escort her to campus. There’s just one tiny little problem that is getting in the way of being the trip to solve all problems besieging their family unit: a tech billionaire () has created the latest breakthrough in A.I. technology for personal devices and, oops, it has become sentient () and mobilized millions of robots to cover the earth and destroy humanity. As people are being trapped in bubbles and whisked away to a prison in the sky, the Mitchells somehow manage to barely escape the worst possible fate and drive through an apocalyptic landscape trying to save themselves and maybe, just maybe, do something to help stop the nuclear winter that awaits us all. In doing so, Katie learns to not be so anxious to get away from her kind, and Rick realizes that maybe he could make more of an effort to understand his kid. Creative and beautifully animated, but somehow it never quite gets far beyond its clever concept, this is a sweet but not necessarily lively adventure that reads well but lacks a great deal of personality.

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