Movie review: I had no idea 'The Mitchells vs. the Machines' would be so good

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
"The Mitchells vs. the Machines."

When a giant Furby is about to destroy our heroes, they utter “Let The Dark Harvest Begin” at one point in the new film "The Mitchells vs. the Machines." It's then you know without a doubt you have a wildly creative and different film on your hands. And I mean that in the best possible way. This is a funny, poignant, and sweet animated movie that was a totally unexpected surprise for me. I had no idea it would be this good. 

Bill Choy is the sports editor for the Siskiyou Daily News and Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers.

It is a strange film that mixes comedy, family angst, and the robot apocalypse that on paper really should not work. But, I am glad to say, this film works. Big time. I laughed a lot, very loudly in fact, on many occasions, and was totally all in for caring about this odd animated family. And that includes their lovable and none too bright dog that, by the way, looks like a cross between a dog, a pig, and a loaf of bread. His looks plays an important part later in the film. You'll see what I mean. 

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All those involved in making "The Mitchells vs. the Machines” are to be commended for making a movie that proudly flies its freak flag, but at the same time provides a wonderful time that the entire family should enjoy.  The movie's bottom line is that despite ups and downs, family is forever and family sticks together no matter what. And that includes when robots are enslaving the world – and your family, which is, by the way, driving a burnt orange 1993 sedan – are the only ones that can stop it.  

 “The Mitchells vs The Machines” follows the Mitchells, of course, an odd family that everyone considers, well ... different. 

We follow the eldest child, Katie Mitchell. She is a quirky aspiring filmmaker who recently has been accepted into film school all the way across the country in California. She loves her family but has had issues of seeing eye to eye with her well-meaning dad Rick, who loves nature and does not like modern technology like computers and cell phones one bit. He is an old-school kind of fella. For instance, he buys screwdrivers as gifts for everyone in his family. After a big blowup between father and daughter the night before Katie is to fly to California for college, good old Rick has a brainstorm. He cancels the plane ticket and has the entire family jump in the car and take a cross-country road trip to drop Katie off at college. Along for the ride are the mom Linda, younger brother Aaron, and family dog Monchi. Rick hopes this will cause them to all bond. 

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are among cast members in Netflix film 'Mitchells vs. the Machines,' due April 30.

Well, it does not quite work out this way. A highly intelligent AI named PAL betrays her creator after he declares her obsolete when he plans to unveil a new line of home robots in her place. So, the jilted AI, who is a smart phone, a very smart and evil one in fact, has other plans. She is HAL 9000 for the wireless age. So, PAL orders all the robots to capture humans worldwide and launch them into space, but the Mitchells turn out to be quite resourceful in a dysfunctional sort of way and escape. It turns out they are the only ones that can save mankind and stop the robot invasion. 

As Katie perfectly says at one point in the film, “Most super hero families have a lot of strengths. My family only has weaknesses.”  

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But, they discover that they are a family that uses their weaknesses as a strength and ultimately grow to embrace who they are while saving the world. 

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a movie that has to be seen to believe. It is quite strange, but it just works. We grow to care about the Mitchells, who are well-crafted, fleshed-out characters. The movie wears its odd humor on its sleeve like a badge of honor and made me laugh throughout. Some jokes kids will like, while others will make adults chuckle, while other jokes will make everyone laugh. 

“Overall, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a film that is a refreshing and odd breath of fresh air. It is a terrific entertainment that I got a kick watching. I think you will too. 

Grade: A  

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is currently streaming on Netflix and just began streaming on Friday after being released in selected theaters the week before. 

It is rated PG for action and some language.  

Run Time 1 hour 54 minutes.