Here’s my short review on the movie The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021) I saw on Netflix. It’s an animated, kid-friendly adventure about a robot apocalypse and a productive amalgam of the minds of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Will Allegra, some whimsy of Alex Hirsch thrown into the mix. This movie is good, heart-warming, tongue-and-cheek cheekiness all over. I was surprised how heart-warming this story was, I said d’aww at the relatable characters and their shenanigans for many many times while watching this and I’m definitely going to watch this again.
I have a couple of nitpicks based on my personal tastes. In a movie that presents very over-the-top fictional apocalyptic scenario (which is awesome) I would have preferred the whole world having been fictionalized with analogous product names, songs and car brands instead of the real world ones. Sure the movie gives us Palgram instead of Instagram but at the same time it throws us brand names like Photoshop and real toys and earworms from the nostalgic past of the real world millenials. I appreciate shows like Arrested Development and and kid’s shows like Gravity Falls and Steven Universe that see the effort of inventing brilliant product names and cultural phenomena that resemble the actual world products but are not quite the same. The audience then uses their brain to spot the references, it’s marvellous and prevents those shows from turning into cavalcade of product placement in my opinion. The same could have worked very well in Mitchells vs Machines because of the cartoony character designs, comedic tone and already fictional Pal software brand.
I would have preferred slightly less cartoony character design or at least slightly more variation in character expressions. Also the first and second act were very crammed with sounds, action and visuals and there was not enough breathing room in my opinion. When I skimmed at the style of this movie based on the trailers, it reminded me a lot of apocalyptic animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meat Balls (which is a disaster movie parody written by Lord & Miller and much better than it should be, it’s very well written and the two worked on this Mitchells vs Machines movie as well. Fun task: Can you spot the sort of very similar scene of these two disaster movie parodies Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs and Mitchells vs Machines?). All in all I felt like I was watching a movie that could be summed up as Excellent cinema writing meets Cloudy with the Chance of Meat Balls meets Emoji Movie. Emphasis on the excellent cinema writing, though, cause I really enjoyed this film despite its time to time exhausting visuals and real world products feeling like out of place in the fictional world. Engaging warmth, relatable characters and cheeky satire are spot on in this film.
Also I guess because of the real world brands the fictional Pal brand that is important for the story and draws nice analogies to the real world really pops and draws the viewer’s attention in a good way. Also I loved, no adored, the Lovecraftian Furby Escatology! It definitely could warrant a spinoff and a toyline of its own lol. I just loved it. There are no words. It was perfect. :’D