Freedman’s Film Forum: “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”

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Photo courtesy Joshua M. Freedman

Junior Joshua M. Freedman enjoys watching “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” at his house on May 19.

What can only be described as a unique film that generates an uncontrollable amount of laughter while simultaneously causing audiences to reflect on their family relationships in a sentimental way, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a remarkable movie that can thoroughly be enjoyed by viewers of all ages.

The story is set by the main character directly speaking to the audience to explain the context, characters and events that foreshadow the climax and conflict present within the story. Not only do the characters consistently “break the fourth wall” throughout the entirety of the film, but at certain moments within the movie the action would freeze and the screen would be replaced with what can only be described as a modern day Monty Python cartoon break combined with animated images in the style of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” This did take some getting used to, but it certainly made the movie captivating and entertaining.

While “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” was predominantly animated, the style of it was far from conventional. It was as if director Michael Rianda “cartoonified” a cartoon, as little animated symbols and images that were obviously and intentionally inconsistent with the rest of the animation present in the film would occasionally surround a character or object. 

As aforementioned, the film is predominantly animated, and not fully animated. For brief moments within “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” videos taken from popular sources such as YouTube, along with images that can be found on the common web, were integrated into scenes. While I am not going to spoil exactly what they were, I will say that these real-world images and videos enhanced the comedic aspect of the film.

Along with incorporating viral videos and playful pictures in the film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” also borrowed from pieces of popular culture. For example, there were trending TikTok songs to appeal to children and adolescents, as well as scenes that playfully mocked or simply alluded to other movies that more adults than minors would understand.

Examining the plot of the film more in-depth, the story was exciting, action-packed and multi-layered. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” revolves around the Mitchells, a dysfunctional family of four consisting of two out of sync yet well-meaning parents, a teenage girl who is passionate about writing, directing and filming movies, and a younger boy who is a dinosaur enthusiast.

While the characters all have different interests and approaches to dealing with problems, it is evident that they all love and support each other (even if they are not the most direct about doing it). 

When a piece of artificial intelligence goes rogue and turns the technology on Earth into evil warriors with the sole intent on eradicating humanity, it is up to the Mitchells, the last free people in the world, to save the day. During their mission to stop the technology takeover, they learn valuable lessons about family, individual interests and accepting to see others for who they are rather than trying to sculpt them into what you want them to be.

With so many individuals trapped inside due to the pandemic with no one for company except immediate family, this film demonstrates the importance of having a close bond with family members and why having each others’ back should always be a top priority.

The “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is available to anyone with access to Netflix, and I strongly recommend that you do not hesitate to let this technological masterpiece “takeover” your screen soon for a fantastic family night movie.