Sony Pictures Animation has been having one of the best comebacks I've ever seen for an animation studio. After hitting an all-time low point in 2017 which included releasing the dismal "The Emoji Movie", they bounced back hard the following year with fun films like "Hotel Transylvania 3" and "The Angry Birds Movie 2" as well as the incredible "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse". Now adding to their list of successful films is "The Mitchells Vs. The Machines". This was a film I was anticipating for a long time since last year back when it briefly got renamed "Connected" and by the time it was over I had such a huge nerdy smile on my face. This film was simply everything I loved in an animated film and it now ranks as Sony Pictures Animation's best film.
After young Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) is accepted into film school in California, she is excited to leave behind her crazy family in Michigan including her nature-loving father Rick (Danny McBride), her obsessive mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), her dinosaur-loving brother Aaron (Mike Rianda), and her less than impressive pug Monchi. However, her plans go awry when her father cancels her plane trip and decides to take her and the whole family across the country to California in the car hoping to squeeze as much family bonding time as possible. The trip doesn't go smoothly, but things only get worse when technology company PAL Labs product launch goes horribly wrong and starts a robot apocalypse led by smart assistant PAL (Olivia Coleman) who captures every single human planning to send them out into space. Her robot army misses the Mitchells leaving them the only family left on Earth. It's now up to the Mitchells to save the world and stop the robot apocalypse and from there a crazy adventure takes place.
This was an animated film that was right up my alley. From start to finish, I had an incredible time watching this film as this film had everything I wanted in an animated film. What really works about the film is the story and its heart. The film takes the goofy road trip comedy plotline and injects it with an apocalypse setting and made it fresh, funny, and exciting due to how hilarious it is. It feels a lot like a "National Lampoon's Vacation" film with a little bit of "Terminator" thrown in. It also helps the film is riddled with tons of movie references and pop culture jokes that were so nerdy and geeky that I couldn't help but smile. This humor is some of the best I've seen in an animated film in a long time reminiscent of jokes from "Gravity Falls" and John Hughes movies. One of my favorite jokes involves the Mitchells seeing a billboard for a dinosaur museum which excites the little brother Aaron so much only to their disappointment that it ends up being a huge letdown as it's a junky gift shop with cheap-looking dinosaur models. This was something that had happened to my family once and I could totally relate to what happens. It also helps the film has a massive heart with the family bonding being the massive drive of the film. The Mitchells aren't perfect and at times the film dubs them as being the worst family alive and the film shows they all have flaws and are trying to work on them, though the film shows they have no qualms about being weird and different from everyone else which is a fantastic lesson to take away from. It also helps that all the characters in this film work so well off each other and none get annoying or overwhelming. The Mitchell family all works well and each one has some great moments of bonding together with my favorite being between Katie and Aaron whose sibling relationship seemed believable. I also found the relationship Katie has with her father really strong as well as both of them really haven't been getting along and aren't on the same page like they used to. As someone who's also had trouble connecting with one of my parents, I really was able to relate to this. I also found two of the malfunctioning robots that join the Mitchells on their journey to save the world really hilarious and didn't find them annoying at all. PAL is such a fun over-the-top villain as well and I could tell Olivia Coleman was having a blast playing this character. Her performance really allowed her to be her goofy self and I got to applaud that. I also cannot go without talking about the incredibly striking animation. This film took the techniques of "Spider-Verse" and turned it up to 11. The stylized animation is some of the best I've ever seen with unique squiggles and line work and the colors really are eye-popping. The filmmakers also add little notebook doodles throughout the film to illustrate Katie's thought process which really made for a clever addition. Little details like that made me smile and it showed a lot of heart and effort went into making this film.
"The Mitchells Vs. The Machines" is a true delight from start to finish. The story was nerdy and goofy and full of heart, the animation is incredible and has striking visuals, and the characters are all fun and silly and have so many funny moments that made them stand out. This is easily Sony Pictures Animation's best film and I cannot recommend it enough. It really shows they are truly standing out amongst the pack when it comes to animation studios and I can't wait to see what they bring to the table next.