Around my house, the weekend doesn’t start until we kick things off with Friday family movie night. When I wrote about the stacked The Mitchells vs. the Machines cast just before the movie debuted on Netflix, I had a feeling it would be a great addition to our long list of movies on this grand cinematic adventure as a family.
Little did I know that The Mitchells vs. the Machines would become an immediate and resounding hit with every member of my family (yes, even my 16-month-old), one that had us laughing, crying (at least some of us, anyway), and smiling ear-to-ear as we were all filled with joy and wonder. As the weekend went on, I couldn’t help but think about all the reasons why this animated movie about the Mitchells trying to save humanity while also figuring out what it means to be family is so great, and why it’s the perfect addition to the family movie night rotation.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines Has An Energetic Pace That Will Keep Your Family’s Attention
I am sure other parents go through this as well, but whenever I try to replicate the movie theater experience for Sledge Family Friday Movie Night, one of the first things I check is a movie’s runtime. When I first went to queue up The Mitchells vs. the Machines, I was initially a little worried because the movie comes in a few minutes shy of two hours, which is around the time my kids typically stop paying attention and want to do something else. Well, that didn’t happen with The Mitchells vs. the Machines and my kids kept up the entire length of the movie. This is thanks to the movie’s energetic pace and captivating plot with plenty of action sequences and tender moments sprinkled throughout.
This pace and focus on well-timed and properly-placed action set pieces creates a nice pattern in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, one that will grab your kids’ attention just when they start to go back to their old ways of disappearing and reappearing with snacks from the kitchen.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines Has A Blend Of Humor The Whole Family Will Enjoy
The best family-friendly movies are the ones that kids and adults alike can enjoy, and that happens to be the case for The Mitchells vs. The Machines. The way in which writers and co-directors Mike Rianda (who also voices the youngest member of the Mitchell family, Aaron) and Jeff Rowe approach humor makes for one of the most enjoyable experiences with the whole family.
On one hand, you have a ton of physical comedy involving the Mitchells and the various Pal Max robots they encounter, spastic scenes with Aaron and his fear of talking to his crush next door, and Monchi, the family pet who’s constantly in risky situations.And while some of the adult-based humor can be a little on the nose at times and come off like something seen in The Social Dilemma, the jokes about society’s dependence on wi-fi and social media make for some hilarious situations.
And then there are times where both levels of humor are combined for some of the funniest scenes in the entire movie, especially the mall scene that’s like a combination of Dawn of the Dead and Maximum Overdrive, but with an army of Furbies.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines Has A Lot To Teach Us About Family, Growing Up And Letting Go
In addition to being fun, cleverly written, and well-acted, The Mitchells vs. the Machines has a lot to teach us about the importance of family, the pains of growing up, and how sometimes parents need to let go and allow their children to try and fail without their protection, even if they see it as love. This is a major part of the relationship shared by Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) and her father Rick (Danny McBride) throughout the movie. The emotional thread throughout the narrative is the strained relationship of the once close father and daughter, and how they learn that the other isn’t trying to be overbearing or closed off, but instead confused about what the future holds.
While watching The Mitchells and the Machines, I saw a little of myself in the Rick character and how his attempts to protect his children from the dangers of the world could actually be a hindrance and that the only way for someone to grow is to try something, even if it means failure. I also see a piece of myself in Katie in the sense that I wanted nothing more than to leave home, never realizing how much it would affect my parents.
The Mitchels Vs. The Machines’ Animation Is Out Of This World
Going into The Mitchells vs. the Machines, I knew the animation was going to be top notch considering it was produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s Lord Miller Productions alongside Sony Pictures Animation who previously teamed up for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 2018. My expectations were not only met but were exceeded very early on in the movie. The unique style of characters, the use the color and light throughout the movie, and the combination of animation styles that were reminiscent of Into the Spider-Verse at times were out of this world and blew me away.
There were times throughout the movie, especially the climatic raid on PAL Labs in the final stretch of the movie, where I was mesmerized by the eye-catching visuals, and I wasn’t alone. My kids were transfixed by what they were watching on the screen in front of them and wouldn’t stop talking about the way the PAL Max robots looked or Katie’s various student films. To call the animation impressive would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Most Of All, The Mitchells Vs. The Machines Is About A Family Spending Time Together
The main reason why The Mitchells vs. the Machines is deserving of a spot in the family movie night rotation is the fact it is a story about a family spending time together and trying to save humanity in the process. And while my family has never had to face an army of the robots and defeat a temperamental computer program all while getting over our differences, we had a grand old time watching the Mitchells do that.
Over the course of their journey, the Mitchells learn that you don’t always have to be perfect, get along all the time, or really understand one another totally to get along as a family and save the day. And that’s my key takeaway from The Mitchells vs. the Machines and why it’s not only one of the best movies on Netflix, but one of the best family movies around.
Bonus: It Passed My Daughter’s Movie Test
One of the most scientific ways I figure out if something is worthy of keeping in my family movie night rotation is my daughter’s movie test. Basically, if my daughter watches a movie multiple times over the course of a weekend (or a day in the case of Toy Story 2) without me bringing it up, it gets added to the list or sticks around to see another day. This has happened with Frozen 2 (I lost count once we hit the double-digits), Studio Ghibli's Kiki’s Delivery Service, and now The Mitchells vs. the Machines. Over the course of a single weekend, she watched the movie three times and will probably spend the next few weeks asking to watch it when she should be napping or going to bed. But hey, at least she has good taste.
Hopefully all of this (especially my daughter’s movie test) helps you make a decision on watching The Mitchells vs. the Machines during your next family movie night. And after you finish watching, take a look at the list of upcoming 2021 Netflix movies to see what else should enter the sacred ground that is family movie night in the future.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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