Surprise success for Netflix's first release dubbed into Catalan
'The Mitchells vs the Machines' imagines the rebellion of electronic devices
It could have been one of those filler films that Netflix acquires to expand its "content" offerings. But The Mitchells vs. the Machines has become an unexpected phenomenon on the weekend of its release. In our country, it was due to an unfortunately still rare circumstance: it is the first direct release title that Netflix offers dubbed and subtitled in Catalan, because its original producer, Sony Pictures, contracted the translation when it was still hoping to show it in cinemas. But also because it's an animated film for the whole family that recovers the happier side of this genre, at a time when the big cartoon productions seem to be opting for more dramatic or philosophical perspectives.
Director Mike Rianda's debut is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, responsible, among others, for Lego, the movie and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the title which this film is most closely related to, especially in its brilliant reinterpretation of an epic genre through ordinary elements. In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the apocalypse came in the form of a perfect storm of junk food. In The Mitchells vs. the Machines it is everyday electronic devices, led by an virtual assistant voiced by Olivia Colman, that rebel against humanity, alienated by its addiction to screens.
Though the internal dynamics of the family come off as overly conservative, the Mitchells live a fantastic adventure with that infectious energy you've come to expect from this kind of film. And the authoritarian collapse caused by electronic devices feels spot on: a sketch of dystopia that is compensated by the vindication of an ecosystem in which heterogeneous digital creative expressions and strange identities coexist, such as the family's pet dog Monchi, who defies any categorisation.