The Mitchells vs. the Machines Parent Guide
High octane fun, this animated feature comes with a large serving of positive family messages.
Parent Movie Review
“Every kid leaves home. It’s not the end of the world.” Except when it is.
Katie and her dad (voiced by Abbi Jacobson and Danny McBride) have been at loggerheads for years; the bluff outdoorsman mystified by his quirky, artsy daughter. Now that she’s heading off to film school, Dad decides that a cross country road trip is just what the family needs to heal the breach. There’s just one problem: a robot apocalypse is unfolding around the world and it looks like this dysfunctional crew is humanity’s last hope…
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is high octane family entertainment. If you enjoyed The Incredibles, you will get a kick out of the adventures of this far less gifted family. They have plenty of relatable flaws but as Katie says, “The Mitchells have always been weird and that’s what makes us great.” In fact, it’s the Mitchells’ quirks – Dad’s fixation on survival skills, Mom’s (Maya Rudolph) fierce maternal instinct, Aaron’s (Michael Rianda) dinosaur obsession and Katie’s unusual videos – that save the world.
The film’s fun comes with a healthy serving of positive messages, particularly those regarding the importance of family ties. The story demonstrates the need to be patient and empathetic; to try to understand the perspectives of other family members. It encourages viewers to look for the good in others and to consciously try to recognize the distinctive contributions of family members. If your kids can’t stop squabbling, this film might help them switch gears from grousing to gratitude; from anger to appreciation.
The movie’s other overarching theme will also win points from parents, especially if you’re trying to wean your kids away from their screens. Big tech is clearly the villain of the film, with an evil plot to depopulate the planet and keep it for robots. As a duped tech guru ruefully admits, “It’s almost like stealing people’s data and giving it to hyperintelligent AI as part of an unregulated tech monopoly was a bad thing.” If you’re trying to get your kids and teens to take digital security seriously, this film might just scare them into listening to you. (But I’m not making any promises.)
As an option for family movie night, this movie comes with the above-mentioned pluses, as well as lots of on-screen violence between humans and robots and a scene where the Mitchells have to do battle with household appliances and toys. The conflicts are too intense for preschoolers and sensitive children, but most kids will be entertained by the plot, the story, and the exploits of the family’s wall-eyed, amiable-but-brainless pet dog. Even adults will find plenty to like here, from the distinctive animation courtesy of Katie’s filters, doodles, and layers of animated content to the clever story. My only complaint is that the editing isn’t tight enough – the movie’s about ten minutes too long – but, like the Mitchells, no one’s perfect. And you don’t have to be perfect to succeed.Directed by Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe. Starring Olivia Colman, Eric André, Maya Rudolph. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release April 30, 2021. Updated May 1, 2021
Watch the trailer for The Mitchells vs. the Machines
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Mitchells vs. the Machines rated PG? The Mitchells vs. the Machines is rated PG by the MPAA for action and some language
Violence: There is a scene of cars on fire. There are frequent scenes of violence between humans and robots. There are frequent scenes of reckless driving. Robots throw a car and carry a man off. Cars are blown up. Robots bully a man, dropping him in a toilet, kicking him in the groin. A character breaks cell phones. A character mentions eating the pet dog. A knife is thrown into a car tire. People are menaced by fiery appliances. Toys menace people and they are attacked by a giant toy. A villain talks about tearing a family apart.
Sexual Content: Main characters are briefly seen naked, strategically holding items in front of their torsos. There’s a brief suggestion that a main character is a lesbian or is bisexual.
Profanity: There is a single term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated May 1, 2021
The Mitchells vs. the Machines Parents' Guide
What causes the conflict between Katie and her dad? How do they learn to appreciate each other? What role does memory play in their change of heart? Do you have trouble getting along with a family member? What can you do to improve your relationship? What are the things you admire about this person? Have you told them?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If your kids are intrigued by robots, let them try a little DIY. Robert Malone’s Recycled Robots: 10 Robot Projects encourages kids to make their own from household objects. DIY robots mix with a mystery in Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith.
Middle schoolers will appreciate the anarchic humor in James Patterson’s House of Robots, which tells the story of a family which includes various home-made robots.
Kids with a more serious bent will be interested in Robot by DK Publishing which covers the history of robots and artificial intelligence.
Related home video titles:
In Onward, two brothers join forces in a quest to complete a spell that will allow them to spend a day with their departed father.
For a change, a huge sentient robot is the good guy in the classic animated film, The Iron Giant.
Appliances go rogue and try to take over the world. The highly trained guinea pigs of G-Force are the only hope to defeat the bad guy.