Try Not to Cringe Challenge
By Sadira Sittampalam
The Mitchells vs the Machines is the latest release from Sony Pictures Animation and first-time director Mike Rianda. It follows a dysfunctional family that finds themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse. The movie centres on Katie, the eldest daughter, who has a less than perfect relationship with her father.
Right as she is about to leave for her flight in order to attend her first year at film school, her father decides to cancel her tickets and drive the family across the country to drop her off.
Based on this setup, it is pretty easy to tell where the story is going. The movie was pretty predictable and while it does try to make up for this with its ‘personality’, it wasn’t enough to hide the fact that this was a really average movie. The story was really the least spectacular thing about this film, but I don’t think it was trying to deceive anyone either as they laid out what was going to happen pretty clearly in the film itself.
Even so, so many of the movie’s minor plot points were also predictable, which made this film drag a lot. Even the characters were very stereotypical with the whole ‘pro tools, ‘anti-tech’ dad and the ‘nobody understands me’ oddball teen. It made it hard for me to be invested in their relationship at all as their interactions felt so familiar (not in a good way).
There were just so many overused tropes, it was kind of unbearable at times. I was also very deterred by the mom character, whose entire personality revolved around the fact that she was a mom. They even used the age-old trope of how all moms have this secret or hidden ‘mom’ power that activates whenever her kids are in danger.
I feel like this movie should have been a little more progressive in that regard, especially since they did so well with LGBTQ inclusion. This is actually one of the only movies that manages to have a gay main character and which doesn’t make their sexuality a focal point of the movie.
Instead, Katie is subtly shown to be gay through various background details sprinkled all over the film, and nothing comes of it; it is just normal. This film also didn’t add in an unnecessary romance which was nice. One of the biggest things you understand from this movie (especially in the beginning) is that it is not afraid of being cringy.
While I do appreciate the effort, it was really very cheesy and at times, very cringy. They had a lot of these drawn-in style animations, mimicking Katie’s film style, but it was really hard to take seriously as it didn’t really fit with the animated style of the movie. It was hard to get used to and honestly, I don’t think I even got used to them, I think they just started happening less frequently as the movie went on.
Moreover, most movies have established that they really don’t understand the internet or meme culture, and this movie is really no exception. All the internet references felt really outdated and made it feel like the director was trying really hard to make this movie feel ‘modern’ or ‘relevant’ Towards the middle of the movie, I started to get into the movie and it felt like everything had clicked; the jokes were making me laugh, I was excited to see what was going to happen next; but this didn’t last for very long, as it quickly got back into the predictable tropes that reminded me of all its previous cinema sins.
However, I do have to give kudos to the overall optimistic and welcoming attitude the movie gave off, as it was a little infectious. I really didn’t think the movie was that great, but I wanted to give this film the benefit of the doubt when making my judgements by the end of it because it just made me feel optimistic and positive.
Nevertheless, when I recognised this, it was easy to notice that not much else was done that well. The animation was definitely different. It didn’t feel like a Disney/Pixar movie that has this odd cleanness to it, which was refreshing, but it was nowhere on the level of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, which was done by the same team. Overall, this movie really wasn’t anything spectacular and really is undeserving of the acclaim it is currently getting.
I understand the movie’s entire message is to embrace the weirdo or embrace the cringe, but this embrace got uncomfortably long. The movie has a great attitude about it though, so I feel like it would understand my criticism and deal with it with great face. So, however wholesome this movie is, it is still pretty average. I didn’t really see this movie so much as a comedy but rather as a good updated family movie. So if you aren’t watching this with your kids or if you aren’t a kid, you can probably skip this.