Road trip movies have been a thing now for at least four decades. Films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation are iconic films in this small genre. The thing is there haven’t been many — if any — road trip movies in the animation genre. The Mitchell’s vs the Machines is quite the road trip movie with a twist on it. As the title suggests, this family runs afoul of a robot apocalypse.
Abbi Jacobson voices a teenage girl who had a good relationship with her father, but in most terms, she starts to develop ideas and ways of doing things that are different from what her father likes. Her father, voiced by Danny McBride, can’t seem to do anything right in his quirky daughter’s mind. After a fight at the dinner table results in his daughter’s broken laptop, there might be no coming back for him. As a last-ditch effort, dad decides to cancel his daughter’s plane ticket to college and packs her, her brother (Michael Renata, who also serves as director), their mother (Maya Rudolph), and the family dog in the car and they go on a cross-country road trip to bring her to college. Hopefully having a family bonding experience on the way.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, famous for the 21/22 Jump Street movies and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, are once again producers of a trendy animated feature film, but this time, not a comic book movie. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a fun family adventure. They got on board with the writer/director Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe. This is a very entertaining property for the whole family. It was a no-brainer for them to get involved with this film.
Pixar has cornered the market on animation in the world, but Disney Animation and Illumination have upped their game over the years. Netflix has gotten into the animated feature game over the last few years with The Willoughbys, Over the Moon, The Little Prince, and Klaus. One of the best parts about The Mitchells vs. the Machines is its animation. It is a little different than we’ve seen in the past, but it jumps out at you in a colorful and very vivid way. It also has a grain to it that makes it stand out as well.
One of the key factors in a good animated film is its cast, and the cast of this film isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst either. McBride, Rudolph, and company do the best they can, but it’s Abbi Jacobson who is the standout. Her character has a lot going on as a teenage girl about to go into college. Girls that age can be a bit of a handful for parents. They are going through a lot of female issues. McBride and Rudolph play the parents very empathetic and understanding of her issues.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a fun experience for the whole family. It has good voice-over work and great animation. The story is one we’ve seen before but not done this exact way. This is a very cool way to do a road trip movie. Michael Rianda does triple duty on this film and it’s all on the screen to see. This film might give Netflix its fifth Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature in three years. It’s definitely going to be in the conversation come awards season next year. This is a very worthy film of such accolades.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media