The Mitchells vs. The Machines ★★★★★
Starring Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Olivia Colman
After the success of their last feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony Pictures Animation had a tough job to top their brilliantly imaginative selves. And I'm not saying this is better than the Sony feature that came before it, but it's just as fun, just as crazy and definitely on the same tier of quality and instant reputability.
As animation giants continue to battle it out each year, releasing new features with cuddly characters that will create expert toys or new ideas that only an animated film could capture, Sony Pictures Animation has been quietly creating an impressive run of brilliantly irreverent comedies.
In recent years, they have created films mainly aimed at a younger audience in the form of Hotel Transylvania and Angry Birds, but now they are beginning to experiment in a way that Pixar or Aardman animation studios do, taking risks that pay off. Experimentation has been a key part of their storytelling in the past: they've created a mockumentary about surfing penguins and a film where it literally rains food. And here, in The Mitchells vs. The Machines the studio has definitely returned to that bizarrely loveable energy.
With Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 & 22 Jump Street, Spider-Verse) as the writers, this film was already in capable hands; and as usual with these pair, it really is a laugh a minute. The comedy comes through thick and fast and not just from one character. Each and every character is hilarious in their own bizarre and wonderful way, and they truly capture the dysfunctional elements of a functional family.
Director Michael Rianda holds back from having a tonne of exposition, and only introduces certain character traits when necessary to the plot. A particular gag in which Linda Mitchell (Maya Rudolph) is giving out stickers isn't explained until around the half way point. You really do spend (just under) two hours with this family and learn the qualitative and negative areas of their relationship, and through that it is excellent vocal performances and eye-poppingly stylised animation that makes for such a fun film.
Plus, Olivia Colman voices an evil smart phone...what more could anybody ask for?
Not only was this film full to the brim with laughs, lots of colour and did I mention laughs? But it also dares to be different and dares to openly introduce an LGBTQ+ character, something that hasn't been seen from the mainstream animation studios in such an explicit ordinary way.
Absurdly, hilariously, joyously ingenious. Just watch it!
The Mitchells vs. the Machines available now on Netflix