The Mitchells vs the Machines – Blu-ray Review

The Mitchells vs the Machines

There are no hotter filmmakers in animation working today than Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Whether it’s their work as writer-directors or as producers, the films they work on always seem to have this kind of charm and inventiveness to them. Thankfully, this streak continues with The Mitchells vs the Machines.

As a whole, The Mitchells vs the Machines is a textbook kid’s adventure that’s full of the sort of tropes we’ve all seen many times before. Nevertheless, writer-directors Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe take these tropes and transform them into something intelligent and heartfelt. For fans of Lord and Miller’s work, they’ll no doubt recognize their trademark onslaught of pop culture references, inventive animation, an unrelenting pace with quick edits, and chaotic visuals running throughout the flick.

However, the heart and soul of the film isn’t the humor. It’s Rick and Katie’s relationship. Throughout the film, the duo must find equal footing in understanding the other’s very different mindsets. Katie needs to accept her father’s awkward attempt at family bonding and recognize it as his happy place for creation. At the same time, Rick needs to stop skeptically dismissing Katie’s love of making films and accept that art can be fruitful as nature survival. In the end, their need to respect the other’s unique strengths is what brings much of the heart to the film.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the stellar voice work by the entire cast. The performance by Abbi Jacobson and Danny McBride elevates the content to a whole other level. Not to mention, Maya Rudolph and Mike Rianda provide great supporting performances to Jacobson and McBride. As the villain, Olivia Colman gives a dry, witty performance that completely fits PAL. At the same time, she portrays a sense of gravitas and seems to have a lot of fun in the role.

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

The Mitchells vs the Machines - Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, Mike Rianda, Fred Armisen, and Beck Bennett

Video

The Mitchells vs the Machines hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The whites are vibrant and dynamic, and the blacks are deep and inky. As you can probably tell, The Mitchells vs the Machines is an energetically colorful film, and the colors are beautifully represented here. They’re vivid without looking overly saturated. The level of detail on the 1080p disc is pretty close to the version on Netflix. In other words, The Mitchells vs the Machines boasts a wonderfully crisp and dynamic animation presentation that excels in every shot, scene, and sequence. Of course, it would be nice to see a physical Ultra HD release of the film, but as it is, the Blu-ray delivers a superb punch.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Mitchells vs the Machines - Doug the Pug

Audio

The Mitchells vs the Machines hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Unfortunately, the audio mix is a little on the low side. So to get the best experience, you just really need to turn up the volume a good 5-10 DB’s over your usual listening volume. Then again, the mix provides a delightful aural and immersive experience. All sorts of wacky directional effect pans dominate the surround channels. Also, Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is spread nicely across the entire soundstage. Despite the comical robotic chaos, the dialogue remains clear and understandable throughout. As a whole, the whole mix is timid and a little flat but works as it is.

Audio Rating: 4/5 atoms

The Mitchells vs the Machines - Olivia Colman

Special Features

The Mitchells vs the Machines‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Blu-ray disc:

  • Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut!
  • Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter
  • Bonus Scenes!
    • The Mitchells Learn to Love the Robots!
    • Katie’s Sneaky Dog Cop Apology
    • Katie Mitchell – The Most Popular Girl in Town
    • The Mitchells Meet the (Vice) President
    • Technology Takeover – With Bonus Cruelty to a Child!
    • Everybody Loves Killbot
    • The Robots Attack – Early Version
    • Cold Open – Old PAL Informercial
  • Katie’s Cabinet of Forgotten Wonders
    • Katie-Vision!
    • Dumb Robots Trailer
    • The Original Mitchells Story Pitch
    • The Furby Scene – How? Why?
    • Pal’s World
  • The Mitchells vs the Machines: Or How a Group of Passionate Weirdos Made a Big Animated Movie
  • Filmmakers Commentary
  • How To…
    • Make Sock Puppets
    • Make Katie Face Cupcakes
Features Assessment

A text introduction reads: “These are made with some very temporary voices and rough storyboards. Sometimes you will hear voices that don’t seem to belong to the speaker… and it’s only because the scene never got far enough to be voiced by one of our wonderful actors.” Although the Katie Cut is 3-minutes longer, the movie is vastly different than the theatrical cut. In other words, this new version is chock full of alternate scenes that change the complexity of the original.

As we get to the bonus features, they’re typical in what you see in animated Blu-ray releases. First, we have the short “Dog Cop 7,” which is surprisingly not an animation short. Instead, it’s a low-budget, live-action short full of plush animals and sock puppets. The deleted scenes are almost the same as those found in the Katie Cut. However, if you want to see them individually, then you’ll find them here. “Katie’s Cabinet” are various bite-sized features that offer insight into the long production process of the film.

As the name suggests, “Group of Passionate Weirdos” is a 12-minute featurette where the filmmakers (and cast) talk about a wide variety of subjects, including the film’s genesis and the artistic world of Mitchells vs the Machines. “How to,” as you probably figured out, is a feature for families where they can create their very own sock puppets and Katie cupcakes. 

As you can see with the number of people in the filmmakers’ commentary, there are a wide array of different departments in this. Now, you would think all these different voices would overlap on each other, but the track feels more like a roundtable discussion than what you normally hear. Also, it features many entertaining production stories and the process of animating the film. Besides, animation folks always seem to have a great sense of humor, and everything comes through in the commentary track.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, The Mitchells vs the Machines is a film that is not only spectacular as an animated film, but it’s spectacular as a film in general. In other words, it has everything you would want in a movie. Although we don’t get an Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the film, the video presentation is still first-class. Unfortunately, the audio track does have some issues, but it’s still a presentable mix. On the other hand, the bonus features are plentiful, but they’re not that in-depth.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

The Mitchells vs the Machines is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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