The animated film, The Mitchells vs the Machines is a goofy-spoofy family tale that tries to explore the boons and banes of technology. Keeping the perspective balanced through a gadget-geek daughter and technologically challenged father, the narrative, on the whole, is a messy ride. However, in the end, what matters is how much a story that revolves around the feeling of acceptance moves you. Maybe, it doesn’t move you at all and just passes along. Let’s find out.
‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’ Summary
The story follows a dysfunctional family, The Mitchells. The elder daughter, Katie Mitchell aspires to become a filmmaker. Being unfit, Katie found her solace in movies. She spent all her childhood making spoof-ish videos on Youtube and now wants to pursue the career. She applies for a California film school and gets selected.
However, her nature-loving dad Rick Mitchell couldn’t understand his daughter’s inclination towards movie-making. A classic conflict between father-duo turns depressing when Rick accidentally breaks Katie’s laptop, a day before her college day. Katie is devastated and the incident creates a further gap between the father and the daughter.
Rick, in his remorse and effort to mend the gap, decides to drop his daughter to California via a road trip. The mother Linda and younger brother Aaron agree to the plan and Katie feels helpless. She just wanted to get away from the family as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, an innovator in Silicon Valley, Mark Bowman (don’t miss the pun) introduces his latest invention called Home Robots. These AI-Powered Robots are multitasking bots that can accomplish any task. However, Mark’s earlier innovation, an AI named PAL, feels dejected and in order to take revenge infects the code-source of Robots, thus turning them against humans. A machine apocalypse strikes the world while the Mitchells enjoy their road trip.
When Katie and her family understand the gravity of the situation, they decide to save the world. Katie learns from two defective robots, Eric and Deborah Bot that there is a kill code that can shut down all the robots.
The Mitchells embark on a journey from Silicon valley to PAL Labs HQ to end the problem from the root. But Pal is waiting for them, along with its deadly Stealthbots. The film further explores the family’s effort to save the world and patch up their relations during the journey.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’ Ending Explained
The Mitchells reach PAL Labs HQ to shut it down but before they can accomplish their mission, Pal leaks out a video of Katie in which she shows her discomfort and unacceptance towards her family, especially her dad Rick. The confrontation breaks Rick’s heart. Taking advantage of the situation, Pal’s modified Stealthbots capture Rick and Linda but Katie and Aaron manage to escape.
Katie soon finds out that their dog Monchi (a dysfunctional dog about which Robots can’t decide whether it’s a dog or a pig) causes a short circuit in Robots. The kids employ the trick and plan to play the video of Monchi in Labs HQ. However, the family is outnumbered before they can upload the video. In a heart-whelming confrontation, Katie retrospects the sacrifices her family especially her father had made for her. She understands that family stands with you no matter how hard a situation gets. Pal pushes Katie off the building but Rick saves her with the help of defective robots, Eric and Deborah Bot. They also help the Mitchells to upload Monchi’s video, thereby creating a short circuit in all the bots controlled by Pal. Katie destroys Pal by throwing the cellphone in a glass of water. This is how The Mitchells save the world from the Machines.
In the end, Rick accepts Katie’s dream. He verbalizes his fear of his daughter’s future but soon corrects himself by saying, “no matter what happens, her family will always be there for support.” The father and daughter accept each other finally. They might not understand each other’s ideology but they promise to at least try. Katie joins her California film school college, meanwhile, Rick spends his time trying to understand computers. A horror, but that’s the least he can do to watch her daughter’s crazy videos on Youtube.
A few months later, the family is called to Washington, D.C to accept the Medal of honor. It fuels another family trip but no one knows the tragedy that awaits.
The Mitchells vs the Machines try to implement too many good thoughts and messages. However, its intention becomes its problem. The narrative feels like a staged recipe with too many vegetables on the top but none of it mixes with the broth. Many layers are too superficial. The jokes on Wifi, Youtube Videos, Cell Phones, and Human obsession with technology tickles you. But these many thoughts don’t leave an impact. It’s a spoof-ish element that works in the beginning to lay the setup, later feels imposed and forced.
The character transformation between Rick and Katie is not gradual. The effect and effort sometimes fade away completely. The turning point in their relationship and the realization is too bleak. It miserably fails to invoke any emotional impact.
The Mitchells vs the Machines is a 2021 Animated film directed by the first-time director Mike Rianda. The film is streaming on Netflix.
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