Dir: Mike Rianda. Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Conan O’Brien. Cert PG, 113 mins
It might feel a little audacious for an animated film produced by Sony Pictures and distributed by Netflix to preach about the dangers of too much screentime. Rick Mitchell (Danny McBride) sits at the breakfast table, hoping for a little confab with his beloved family, only to find them all slack-jawed and zombie-eyed, fixated on their devices. But The Mitchells vs the Machines, a family adventure from the producers of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is far too sharp, funny, and self-aware to just wag its finger at audiences. Rick’s own frustrations are just one part of a wider generational divide. We see him sweat buckets as he tries to log in to YouTube, while his daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson), an aspiring filmmaker, finds in the internet both a creative outlet and a tool to better understand herself.
That basic tension remains, even as the Mitchells are plunged into the middle of a robopocalypse, after a tech bro (Eric Andre) angers his own Alexa-like invention (Olivia Colman, wonderful and murderous) by discarding it for a new model. It retaliates by attempting to eject the entire human population into space. Somehow, it’s down to the Mitchells to save the day.
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