November 8, 2021 – This colorful, action-filled, Netflix animated film is about an unhip, misfit family that becomes unlikely heroes of the world, while resolving family squabbles at the same time.
The primary father-daughter conflict is between aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell and her father, Rick, who is clueless about computers and smart phones. Katie has a YouTube channel and Rick barely knows what YouTube is. Rick is more interested in hunting and fishing, and is at home in the wild. The digital divide between Rick and Katie is one of the reasons that Katie is so eager to move away from home and go to college.
Things come to a head on the day Katie is to leave for college. Rick decides that he and Katie need some bonding time, so he cancels her plane ticket and arranges a family car trip to college instead. Rick's wife, Linda and his dinosaur-loving son, Aaron, join them on the road trip in their old car.
The trip is not going well when suddenly, things go from bad to awful. The trip is interrupted by a robot uprising. Robots and other electronic devices controlled by an artificial intelligence entity created by the PAL company, have decided to do away with all humans. The robots quickly capture most of the people in the world with the intention of putting them into giant rockets and sending them into space to die.
The creator of the rebellious machines, Dr. Mark Bowman, is captured by the machines, who have a personal grudge against him. Only the Mitchells escape capture with their unusual set of skills, Rick has mechanical and backwoods skills, Katie has tech skills, Aaron has “Pterodactyl Vision”, the family's pet dog, Doug the Pug, disables robots with his baffling, hard-to-classify appearance, and Linda can handle any situation because she is a mother and a first grade teacher.
The Mitchells, as the only free people left in the world, decide it is up to them to save humanity, but they are up against powerful machines, directed by a fiendishly clever artificial intelligence device. Katie comes up with a clever plan to defeat the machines, but it will take the whole family, and the Doug the Pug, to pull it off.
At one point, Rick is captured and imprisoned right next to Dr. Mark Bowman, who apologizes to him. He says, “Sorry about causing the whole machine uprising. It's almost as if stealing everyone's data and giving it to a hyper-intelligent A.I. as part of an unregulated tech monopoly was a bad thing.” Imagine that.
The movie is filled with different kinds of animation, mixed with some live action. Old-fashioned, campy, two-dimensional animation is used to augment the more modern three dimensional style of computer animation with additional camp references. A lively soundtrack of pop tunes and numerous cultural references spice up the movie.
Essentially, despite all the references to the poisonous influences of out-of-control social media weakening the bonds between people, this is a movie about a family which has grown apart. They are brought together by their mutual need to stick together to save the world. It is a good message and it is a good movie, too. This film rates a B.
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