The Pig Dog Saga

The key lesson in Mitchells vs the Machines is that family means something and our differences make the unit work. That’s in a lot of animated movies though – together is better than apart.

In distancing itself from total cliches, Mitchells vs the Machines finds an important grounding – parents baffled by technology, confused by their children’s talents, and an isolated daughter who can’t compel her father to appreciate her interests.

Mitchells vs the Machines is structured like a moving internet meme

Driven by a manic pace, the YouTube generation has their movie. Riddled with wacky visual sight gags, frenetically edited, and frequently loud, Mitchells vs the Machines is structured like a moving internet meme, joking about the culture as much as celebrating it. This with a misunderstood father looking on, baffled by how any of this is happening.

Katie (Abbi Jacobson) represents countless kids trying to find their way through life, but with an older generation lending only superficial support. Using a tech company as the villain – or, a more accidental villain in this case – works metaphorically. On a road trip, the Mitchells find themselves assaulted, literally, by the industry, taking the form of killer robots. The attack is preceded by an awkward dinner sequence where screens are banned. Now on the road, an escape from the connected world becomes impossible, the rogue ‘bots refusing to relinquish their grip on society.

It’s friendly, of course. This is a PG kid’s movie, yet intelligently composed to find humor in the absurd. A sequence involving killer Furbys mocks the origin point of “smart” toys, and without losing the story elements. Everything plays into the character’s development, the slow move toward bridging the Mitchells’ emotional void a delight.

Overall though, maybe it’s too fast, too rapid, and too chaotic. While reaching kids groomed on YouTube, the parents alongside them might not handle the bombardment. Moments of peace are few, the robotic allegory so aggressive in delivering gags for short attention spans, Mitchells vs the Machines can easily lose those not familiar with the source material. The third act is sheer mania, laced with explosions and laser beams. Fun, enthusiastic, but overbearing in spots. There’s notable Lego Movie hyper-activeness, and it’s no surprise the Lego co-directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord hold producer credits.

Video

A grain filter over the image causes some issues for this encode. Compression runs on the messier side, sometimes following characters, sticking behind them as they move. Darker corners of the screen exhibit blocking problems. While not severe, it’s a constant battle.

Luckily, Mitchells vs the Machines brings stupendous color. Shimmering primaries hit every scene, and the animation fills the screen every chance it can with variety. It’s spectacular, and overall contrast brings additional zest. Depth maintains a persistent lock on these visuals.

A unique aesthetic employs watercolor-esque backgrounds. Impeccable sharpness brings out that texture. Outlined characters suggest a vintage style, those defined lines using the resolution to maintain the sketch-like design. High-resolution material reaches the usual standards of modern animation in HD.

Audio

There’s plenty of fun inside the DTS-HD track, from the action’s kinetic directionality to smaller touches like split dialog across the soundstage. Surrounds play a consistent role in keeping Mitchells vs the Machines feeling aurally filled. The precision is flawless.

This is helped by superb low-end. Robot attacks generate thick rumble, and each jolt is another high-point (or low-point in this case?). There’s variety in the subwoofer’s heft, sometimes room shaking, other times less intense. It’s carefully employed.

Extras

Deleted scenes and an in-movie short open this part of the disc. Those are followed by five featurettes and a fun 12-minute making-of that explores the origins. A packed commentary comes from the filmmaking team of director Mike Rianda, VE supervisor Mike Lasker, production designer Lindsey Olivares, co-director Jeff Rowe, producer Kurt Albrecht, animation lead Alan Hawkins, and story head Guillermo Martinez, with a couple of how-tos for the kids up last.

Note there’s an additional cut of the movie on the disc too, and it’s a fun watch that includes unfinished scenes to show numerous deleted ideas.

The Mitchells vs the Machines
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Having fun at our current technologically-inclined expense, Mitchells vs the Machines is a rapid fun with a smart family drama at the center.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: