The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
April 30, 2021 10:28 PM - Subscribe

A quirky, dysfunctional family's road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity's unlikeliest last hope.
posted by m@f (25 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Take Gravity Falls, Into the Spiderverse, and lab-grade amphetamine and give it to a film student prodigy. The result is this film.

I can’t imagine how this got made, and I’m so glad it was.
posted by m@f at 10:48 PM on April 30, 2021 [14 favorites]

Absolutely loved this! Super fun and very dramatic at times, with awesome animation!

Enjoyed this review from Vulture: It’s Little Miss Sunshine meets I, Robot meets The Host meets Zombieland meets WALL-E meets Kill Bill meets, well, all the other movies.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:08 PM on May 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Our family watched this last night. It was fantastic fun!
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is easily one of the best movies I've seen in quite a while. Pure fun. Incredible.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:04 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Furby section in the mall had my teenager laughing SO HARD. (Me too, to be clear.) I was also super impressed with the face animation of Evil Siri on the phone. So much creativity in such a clean, simple space.
posted by ssmith at 10:23 AM on May 3, 2021 [7 favorites]

Pretty much every scene garnished a chef's kiss from me. When the dad accidentally changed the sys settings to Spanish and screamed when he saw an n with a tilde? oh. my. god.
posted by snerson at 11:56 AM on May 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

D E R E G U L A T E      T A P I O C A
posted by teraflop at 10:24 PM on May 3, 2021 [9 favorites]

What an charming movie. Did everyone listen to the end?
posted by hototogisu at 12:22 AM on May 4, 2021

This was a really fun movie. The animation was so creative and even the credits were fun.
posted by ceejaytee at 5:04 AM on May 5, 2021

This is honestly the best film ive seen this year. Very funny, and so creative both in look and individual moments. Fundamentally it is a family story, so the overarching moral message and plot is predictable, but within those lines it is able to craft something really unique.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:46 PM on May 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I saw this set of GIFs clipped from the film on Tumblr and it convinced me to give the movie a try.

Oh I teared uppppp at the reveal about the cabin and the origin of the little moose toy!

A surprise: the Poseys never get a "oh they live imperfect lives actually" reveal/comeuppance!

The animation style, where you see the action sort of emotionally annotated with additional animation effects from the main character's POV: how common is that these days, especially in English-language film/TV?

The use of Monchi to fool computer vision/object recognition bots and thus shield the car from robots made me so delighted. As did the too-helpful robot (at the barricaded shop in Kansas) cheerfully explaining how and where to use the kill code.

Any pointers to fan posts where people have freeze-framed to find more jokes?
posted by brainwane at 4:31 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

The gigantic evil Furby was inspired, as were the original films that Katie made at home.

The running gag of Monchi licking the dad’s face? Inspired.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:05 AM on May 8, 2021

This was mostly really fun and smart, but there were a couple of seriously-cringe moments:

* robots kicking techbro in the groin

* dad making a comment about not having a "normal" son

So if you're watching with kids, plan on taking a moment to comment on those.
posted by curious nu at 6:27 AM on May 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

there were a couple of seriously-cringe moments:

I'd like to add the scene where the father takes control of his teen daughter's life by surreptitiously contacting her school administrators, canceling her plane ticket and orientation week and effectively kidnapping her because he has issues letting go. He does this all after breaking her laptop, which is the tool she has been using to cope with not being understood. If I wanted to make a live-action teen drama about a nerdy kid being misunderstood and living with an abusive dad I'd copy the opening act and make the voiceover angsty instead of cheery.

That plot point left such an awful taste that I had difficulty enjoying anything past it on first watch. The mom shrugging it off with that "boys will be boys" attitude did not help.

If a 17/18yo girl posted an askme "AITA for being mad at my dad because he made me miss my first week of college and forced me on a road trip to bond?" what kind of answers would she get? Am I wrong in thinking it was a violation of her agency and autonomy by an immature man? Maybe I'm crazy because I haven't seen anyone else anywhere comment on that, maybe that's just a normal level of parental control at that age? I dunno, my kid is only 8 so still figuring this dad stuff out.

I rewatched it because my kid wanted to and overall the movie is delightful but man, personally, it's tough to get past that scene.
posted by M Edward at 10:49 AM on May 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

I think that reaction is normal. At least, that's what I saw, and what I *think* we were intended to see. The dad was wrong and, in trying to be better, made things worse.

It was the focus of the movie. Repairing the father daughter relationship. He had to realize he was being dumb and scared, and she had to realize the same thing (that her dad was being dumb BECAUSE he was scared of losing her). It would be within bounds (may depend on family) if she were in elementary school, but he was stuck thinking of her as a small child.

Also some robot apocalypse stuff, but that seemed like it was just an excuse for crazy animation.
posted by Acari at 11:19 AM on May 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Saw a nice breakdown of some of the art inspirations behind the film. "The look of this movie might be HARDER to pull off than Spider-Verse."

I like how they broke their skeleton model to get the otherworldly movement of the killer robots.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Alan Hawkins's tool broke the animation pipeline! (that's so coooool)
posted by brainwane at 6:58 PM on May 8, 2021

well, I guess I'm alone in really hating it. The setup M Edward describes really poisoned the whole movie for me, and the story came off as being written by someone desperately trying to justify all their awful parenting choices, and hiding that under all the flashy blinky aren't-we-cool doodliness.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:09 AM on May 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Just watched it after seeing a few memes that I laughed at without even knowing any context. Loved it pretty hard.

I will be muttering Deregulate Tapioca at my husband at odd moments from now on.
posted by PussKillian at 7:13 PM on May 11, 2021

I may be misreading the movie, but am I right in thinking that the dad built that house in the woods that he keeps the moose decoration from? That and the screwdriver obsession suggests to me that he has a thing that gave him a sense of self, but that he needed to abandon it - the screwdriver is his talisman of his talent, but I didn't notice any evidence that he had opportunities to express it in the suburban life. He literally sacrificed his being as a craftsman (I wrote "aspirations" there, but they weren't that as he had actually achieved something) for his family, so it's not unreasonable for him to worry about his daughter being similarly disappointed in life, even if it is regrettable. All he gets out of the arrangement is to be despised and/or indulged.

My wife's comment was something along the lines of "why are Americans obsessed with stupid dads being stupid?", which I thought was interesting (though in my opinion the same tendency is all over most western cinema that depicts dads). Coming back to the film now and thinking about it, though, the sense I have is that it's actively hateful, and although I'm not a father (though I am a dumb middle-aged man), I notice that I feel like the target of that hatred. It's not important - it is just a cartoon - but I find it interesting that I feel that.

The character's actions justify the judgements we and the other characters have of him, but it's worth remembering that the filmmakers are able to make him act in any way they like in order to induce that justification.
posted by Grangousier at 1:16 AM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

am I right in thinking that the dad built that house in the woods that he keeps the moose decoration from?

Yes, I think they explicitly said that he built it.
posted by knapah at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2021

I absolutely loved it. I will agree that the whole 'take away the daughter's coping mechanism' bit left a bad taste in my mouth, but I think the dad is human and lovable and learned he was wrong. I was joking about celebrating non-binary dad summer by identifying strongly with him (I have Opinions about Robertson screws and also want to live in the woods), but I am imperfect and foolish and wrong in a lot of the same ways he is too.
Anyway, I loved the film and it was funny and I flailed a lot, and I am certain a ton of movie in-jokes went over my head, but it was sweet and weird and wonderful. I'm glad I watched it.
posted by kalimac at 9:46 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Am I wrong in thinking it was a violation of her agency and autonomy by an immature man?

Nope, that was bad and it was hard for me to get around that. However, I realize that in families that are not-my-family, this kind of stuff can sometimes be things that happen that aren't abusive asshole behavior (maybe). I mean I thought the laptop-breaking because it was all textbook-abuser was tough, especially since there was no redemption from that that we saw (i.e. dad learns nothing about himself, doesn't "make it right" that I saw). He could have been written to be more sympathetic earlier on and they just... didn't. But the weird road trip thing seemed a little more like "I can see why this feels like a boundary violation to adult me, but that kind of thing really is what a lot of childhood is like before you have literal legal agency"

And I really did enjoy the rest of the movie, like a lot. I had some issues with the supermom aspects too, and the supporting her husband's bad decisions, and the heteronormativity (up until the very last during-the-credits scene) but really so much of the internet-adjacent stuff were solidly good jokes of the kind I don't see often enough in mainstream movies. And the John Legend Chrissy Teigan bits were just perfect. It was a comic book more than a real feature film, and that's why a lot of people seemed 2D, to me. So overall I enjoyed it though it had a few difficult flaws.
posted by jessamyn at 2:55 PM on May 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

Huh. I just watched this this morning with the kids and the father reminded me strongly of a discussion I’d just had with a friend about our own lower-working-class upbringings and parents who had encouraged us to look at ‘safe’ study and career choices as kids. (MUSIC CUE: “Jackson Cage” by John Wesley Harding) We weren’t kids who were encouraged to chase our dreams, because when you grow up poor that’s another way of getting trapped in a cycle of unemployment. Limitation of one’s own goals being an aspect of the class struggle and all that. I really liked the pro-union bumper sticker on the back of the wagon, too!
posted by MarchHare at 7:45 PM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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