By Saya Ali
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an animated movie produced by Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures released on April 30, 2021.
This animated movie is about a somewhat dysfunctional family saving the earth from evil AI. The movie starts by introducing the members of the family and setting the family dynamic. Katie, the main character and narrator of the movie is different from her schoolmates and expresses her feelings through film making. Her brother Aaron is also a weird kid, but the two siblings get along really well. Rick is their father, and his relationship with Katie is deteriorating as she is aging and wants to move away from her family as soon as possible. The mother, Linda is constantly trying to revive Katie and Rick’s relationship with the help of the little brother throughout the entire movie. Although these characters seem a bit cliche and the trope of the teenage girl disliking her family is played out, the movie does a great job at using these played out tropes and adding enough depth and twists to the characters to make it less repetitive and more interesting.
The storyline of this movie sends multiple messages. It has been a long time since animation movies and tv shows have been sending messages to kids. This is especially recurrent in the animation TV shows like Clarence, which are none the less entertaining and that isn’t to say there aren’t any good animations even if they have little to no underlying message to teach kids anything, but this animation does a good job in getting its messages across without getting too serious or heavy.
The movie tackles the issue of technology and its impact on society and family dynamics in a way that kids can understand. This sort of awareness about technology and the impact they have on daily lives and family dynamics aligns with the time. Most movies and tv shows try to show a dystopian life when technology turns evil and the conclusion of the movie is different from other movies and tv shows about the consequences of technology in the sense that it suggests that technology does not actually turn evil but human beings use it for evil.
Like any other family movie, it ends up with the family getting along better and connecting more. However, it doesn’t just stop there, it also ends in the family accepting each other’s interests, appreciating them and expressing their appreciation and love in ways the other members of the family would accept.
The artwork in animation movies in the past decade has been 3D animations which give characters across different movies very similar features and styles. This animation is 3D with 2D elements. If you look closely, you can see how the main characters have some rough brown lines to accentuate the expression which takes it away from the more smooth aspects of 3D animation. This also applies to the background, as the background moves further away it starts to have a more painting-like effect and these seem to be adding texture to the overall look.
The overall look of the animation is very appealing. While it is usually colorful, the colors are soft with pops of more saturated colors to lead the eyes where they want it and it does not feel heavy on the eyes. One of the most noticeable stylistic choices are the way feelings are expressed with little colorful pop ups around the characters, such as hearts when they feel loved or are showing love, which seems to be similar to the style used in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie. One is the little dinosaurs that pop up when Katie and Aaron do their signature handshake, which is very wholesome especially considering these pop ups are Katie drawing over the movie to express how she feels.
The animators don’t limit themselves to just this style. The movie uses Katie’s creative and artistic mind for film as a way to add different animation styles into the movie. As shown in this picture, we can see Katie’s animation is completely 2D, which makes the movie more artistically interesting.
There are parts of the movie that also use memes, YouTube videos and gifs which feels a bit tacky and a little bit tryhard. However, this wasn’t a complete turn since it didn’t seem out of place considering the entirety of the movie already incorporates many other styles than just the main animation style.
In this movie these stylistic choices feel very intentional when considering the storyline. All the different styles that are added are not just for aesthetic purposes but rather they are tied up with Katie’s artistic journey with film. Every new style that’s seen in the movie is a different style Katie is trying in her journey to make her story with her family more special to her. The movie doesn’t just tell us about Katie’s hobby, talents and skills when it comes to movie but the movie shows us how her skills vary from animating, filming and editing which pop up throughout the entire movie.
Overall, this movie is good. It is visually appealing and even a bit different to other animations, the jokes don’t seem to be played out or too time specific, and the message it sends is advanced for its demographic but the movie is successful in sending its messages to kids in an absorbable manner.