Even if you didn’t already know that The Mitchells vs. The Machines – originally titled Connected was produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, you’d probably guess it within five minutes. It bears all the same hallmarks that the pair brought to The LEGO Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – wall-to-wall laughs, astonishing visuals, and a surprising amount of humanity.

It would have been so easy to settle for the tired moral that we all use screens too much, but writer/director Michael Rianda is much more thoughtful in his approach to our relationship to them. As the movie’s villain PAL (a Siri/HAL 9000 mashup delightfully voiced by Olivia Colman) reminds us, technology can offer us boundless knowledge, tools for creativity and the means to stay, well, connected. It’s a tool, but one that magnifies our very human flaws: in a recurring subplot, Mitchell matriarch Linda (Maya Rudolph) enviously hate-follows her seemingly perfect neighbours – played by real-life perfect couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. 

That opportunity for creativity is evident in every frame. This really is a stunning film to watch, blending  2D and 3D animation, stop-motion and live-action in a frenetic mish-mash that makes Spider-Verse look positively restrained. Even when the story begins to spin its wheels in the third act it throws gag after gag at the wall – though the highlight is a sequence in a mall with killer appliances and a 90s cameo too good to spoil. Thankfully, it’s never so much fun that it forgets about the very intimate family story at its heart. You may want to have some tissues ready. 

Lord and Mitchell have done it again. The Mitchells vs. The Machines sets a new high bar for animation, and it’s one of the best films of the year so far.



CAST: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Olivia Colman, Eric Andre

DIRECTOR: Michael Rianda

WRITERS: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe

SYNOPSIS: 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.