The Mitchells VS The Machines is the #1 movie on Netflix today. I watched it on a whim this evening all by myself as I waited for my fiance to get off work. I went into the movie completely blind, knowing nothing about it at all. Within the first three minutes I was literally laughing out loud. I almost NEVER laugh when watching TV – I cry easy watching TV – and The Mitchells VS The Machines had me shed a few tears too before all was over.
It’s a movie with a lot of heart. The characters feel very real. Although flawed as the family might be, they have a very human like quality. It’s also very relateable due to the topics it includes. No, not robot apocalypses, but the themes of family, and growing up and fear of failure and taking risks and learning to let go, and let your children chart their own course.
I am a Millennial, sometimes called Gen Y. I think I’m pretty tech savvy for someone who didn’t spend their whole life with wifi and internet and a smart phone. The generation before me is Xenial and before them was Gen X. The one after me is Gen Z. The current kids today are what they call Generation Alpha.
This movie deals a lot with how raising a family is different and faces different challenges in a world of constant connectivity. We forgo one on one quality time, hiding behind the screens of our phone or computer or gaming system. We record and upload everything, from selfies to family milestones, to silly videos, to anything in between. And we constantly desire to buy the latest greatest next big thing. Latest gaming console, latest Smart Phone, latest computer, etc. We are a society obsessed with internet culture.
And the internet itself can be both good or bad. I honestly feel if not for the internet I would be forever alone. I haven’t had many relationships, or dates, or people I’ve been interested in, or call it whatever you want to call it, but everyone that I’ve ever met has been on the internet.
And I’ve met and built a lot of platonic friendships online that in a lot of cases eventually transcended to offline via meetups and common interests.
The internet makes it so easy to meet people who share our common interests. For that reason, I relate a lot to the main character Katie, even if she may be Generation Alpha or what have you. I am “ahead of the game” when it comes to “finding my people” online, honey, I’ve been doing that since the 90s.
Of course there are dangers to technology – the obvious one, is people are not all good, and not always who they say they are – hence TV documentaries like Catfish and Web of Lies. I was really lucky that the people I met have all been who they said they were and not crazy catfish or psycho killers. The internet is a dangerous place. You can be anyone.
But when you are truly yourself, and the people on the other side of the screen are truly themselves as well, well then, it’s pretty amazing. You can make best friends, or even fall in love, with someone half way around the world, all from your phone or computer. Pretty amazing isn’t it? I’m actually marrying one of those people in 3 months. So I know the internet is not such a bad place.
Another thing the internet does is it causes us to become unhappy with our own lives. We look at a constant stream of seemingly perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect hair, perfect houses, perfect children, perfect pets, perfect spouses or significant others, perfect vacations, perfect families…. but is that reality? No. The truth is, most people take 30-40 photos to get that one perfect shot. And they might have a good day that day, and tomorrow be fighting, crying, screaming, the house a mess, kids late for school, tired, exhausted, barely holding on.
Like I said, you can be anyone on the internet. And most people are going to project the best possible image of themselves in a world where everyone is watching and where followers = advertising dollars.
But still, Katie girl, I feel you – the internet can be a great place to “find your people”.
I also feel you that family can be annoying, frustrating, lonely, isolating, sometimes you feel your family doesn’t care or love you. They might not understand your hobbies or interests. They may not accept you. You might feel you have to hide who you are or try to impress them. But really, as we find out through the course of this movie, those fears are unfounded. Family is family forever. They may not always understand or support your choices, but they’ll always love you and sacrifice for you.
As The Mitchells VS The Machines points out, family isn’t perfect, but when it comes down to it, they’re going to be there for you no matter what. Chances are, for all the frustrations you feel, your other family members feel the same frustrations towards you. There’s so many miscommunications and misconceptions. We as individuals only see things from our own perspectives. And different generations have different experiences that influence their thoughts and actions.
These are just some of the serious topics this relatively silly cartoon tackles in The Mitchells VS The Machines. In addition to tackling things like building quality time vs screen time, and generational gaps, the film hits the mark in terms of pop culture icons. First most notably is PAL who is similar to Siri or Alexa or Cortana, a virtual assistant who can almost seem human at times. And then we have Furby make an appearance. That was one of my favorite scenes honestly. Growing up in the 90s I had a dozen Furbies. And throughout the movie there’s references to Youtube and other video streaming platforms and Instagram and other photo feeds.
Its these real life little touches that pull me in. Plus the humor is so spot on!!! There’s so many great one liners or little quirks. “dog, pig, bread?” “the prophecy is fulfilled” “Would you like to talk about dinosaurs?”
The animation is cute, but not of the highest quality. It mixes mostly 3D with a little touch of 2D almost like “stickers” over the 3D – emulating I guess like Snap Chat or Tik Tok – or about a dozen asian photo filter apps. I did have some issue with the animation, I think it lacked texture, and the lighting effects were too intense and flashing and just distracting overall. But at other times the animation was cute or funny. But just too busy maybe.
The music was a huge hit, for millenials and gen alpha or whatever alike. So memorable, many great pop hits. Perfect “road trip” soundtrack.
The characters themselves were so funny and likeable.
There’s the main girl who’s going to college, and really just wants to leave her small town and find people who share her interests. She feels especially out of touch with her dad, though strangely very close to her young brother.
The little brother in question is probably/possibly autistic and loves dinosaurs and science and can talk for hours about scientific dinosaur facts, but is extremely scared of socializing or talking and has no friends and literally freaks out and runs away if someone talks to him
There’s the mom who is a typical mama bear type character, but she’s also obsessed with portraying the perfect family online and disappointed that her neighbors family seems so perfect “keeping up with the jones'”
Then there’s dad. Good old dad. With his handy tools. And lame “dad jokes” he tries. he really does. but he just doesnt get this new technology and the things kids do these days. But he really loves his family and always tries his best for them. He would even die for them if he had to – and he comes close to doing just that.
And last but not least, there’s Munchie the pug. He’s the family dog, and he might just save the day.
This cast of quirky unique slightly flawed characters are truly endearing and we learn more about their motivations and inner workings as their road trip to take Katie to school progresses.
There’s a lot of action – what robot apocalypse movie would be complete without action scenes right?
But there’s equally a lot of comedy along the way.
And a lot of learning the true meaning of family.
All of these things combine to give us a movie that’s very deserving of #1 on Netflix this Cinco De Mayo 2021.
Check it out and let me know your thoughts. I laughed and cried and loved this movie way more than I expected to!