THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES – Review by Susan Granger

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A fictional teenage film student may be this Awards season’s best campaigner as the mediocre The Mitchells vs. the Machines dazzled the animation BAFTAs, Critics Choice and Oscars – and many wonder why.

17-year-old Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is an avid film student, heading to college in Southern California, when her overbearing father Rick (Danny McBride) cancels her plane ticket and decides to take Katie, her dinosaur-obsessed younger brother Aaron (voiced by director Mike Rianda), and her mother Linda (voiced by Maya Rudolph) on a road trip in their ’93 stick-shift station-wagon.

For years, geeky Katie, who continually spews out movie references, has been churning out videos for her YouTube channel, including “Dog Cop,” featuring the family’s bug-eyed pug, Monchi.

As they’re driving cross-country, a Silicon Valley tech guru (voiced by Eric Andre) introduces a device ‘upgrade’ which leads to a nationwide robot uprising, not to mention demonic Furbys. That’s when the animated action-comedy turns into a cautionary fable about technology run amok, predictably leading to family bickering becoming family bonding.

“Who would have dreamed the tech companies wouldn’t have our best interests are heart?” murmurs perpetually upbeat Linda.

The evil computer PAL is referred to as “my Queen” by some of the robots, perhaps a reference to voice actor Olivia Colman, who played Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, and the Mall of the Globe in Colorado is a dig at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Katie’s catapult to fame is attributed to writer/director Mike Rianda, co-writer/director Jeff Rowe and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) who have shamelessly plunged into massive marketing, sending decorated cupcakes and replicas the the wooden moose to voters and plastering billboards around Los Angeles, promoting Katie’s website.

FYI: Linda’s recipe for ‘face’ cupcakes is shown during the final credits.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Mitchells vs the Machines is a frenetic, fast-paced 5, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.