Mitchells, The vs. The Machines

image for Mitchells, The vs. The Machines

Short takes

Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 12 (scary scenes, frightening visual images, science fiction themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mitchells, The vs. The Machines
  • a review of Mitchells, The vs. The Machines completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 May 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to scary scenes, frightening visual images, and science fiction themes.
Children aged 8–12 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, frightening visual images, and science fiction themes.
Children aged 13 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Mitchells, The vs. The Machines
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Crude Humour, Mild Themes, Mild Violence, Scary Scenes
Length: 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), an odd-ball student filmmaker, lives with her outdoorsy dad, Rick (voiced by Danny McBride); her wholesome but imperfect mum, Linda (voiced by Maya Rudolph); and her dinosaur-obsessed younger brother, Aaron (voiced by Mike Rianda). After being accepted into film school, Katie thinks she has finally gotten the chance to get away from the father who has never really understood her. But when Katie and her dad get into an argument, he decides to cancel her plane ticket to college and take the family on a cross-country road trip to Katie’s college and attempt to resolve their differences. As the trip progresses, Katie struggles to connect with her dad while staying connected online with her new film school friends. Meanwhile, Mark (voiced by Eric André), founder of global technology superpower, PAL Labs, abandons his original phone-based creation, PAL the virtual assistant (voiced by Olivia Colman), and announces a new addition to their ‘smart’ technology – robot assistants – using their artificial intelligence software. In retaliation for this betrayal, PAL the virtual assistant decides to hijack the robots, capture all humans, and rid the planet of humanity. As the rest of the human race is captured, the Mitchells somehow find they are the only humans left on the planet. With the help of two defective PAL robots ‘masquerading’ as humans, Eric (voiced by Beck Bennett) and Deborahbot 5000 (voiced by Fred Armisen), the Mitchells must battle robots, evil home appliances, and their own difficulty working together, to save humanity and their family.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Parent-child discord; Unhealthy comparisons with others; Science fiction apocalyptic themes.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Robots are attacked in various ways, such as being hit by cars, crushed by heavy items, impaled on poles, etc.
  • The PAL creator is kicked in the groin – this is comedic.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Dad is attacked by racoons – this is comedic but may distress very young children.
  • The PAL creator is thrown against a toilet – he is unhurt.
  • Technological appliances glow red and attack the family.
  • A wall of Furby toys (and a very large Furby) attack the family – this will likely distress younger children.
  • PAL, the virtual assistant, creates even larger robots that are more frightening in appearance and have spears for hands – these will likely scare younger children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The film is set in a ‘robot apocalypse’ in which humans have been enslaved or killed – younger children may find this distressing.
  • People are attacked by flying robots with laser beams.
  • The family throws up after eating bad food.
  • The family is thrown through the air during an explosion – they are unhurt, but the explosion may frighten young children.
  • The Mitchells are thrown around a transport capsule as it tumbles through the air – they are unhurt, but the sequence may frighten younger children.
  • Katie is pulled out of a pile of rubble and appears to be dead – she is fine but this may distress younger children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Dad tries to avoid a traffic jam by driving through traffic cones before crashing into a parked truck – nobody is injured, and dad is given a traffic ticket by a police officer.
  • The Wi-Fi is turned off throughout the world and people are shown rioting.
  • Linda violently defeats the robots, such as by tearing their heads off – oil splatters are shown as if the robots are bleeding.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Smart phone
  • Converse sneakers
  • Sony video camera
  • Sony headphones
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Furby toys.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The family run naked through a backyard – this is brief, and nothing is visible as they are covered by various household items.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Heck
  • Idiot.

In a nutshell

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an animated, family comedy from the creators of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. With creative animation styles; use of both slapstick and verbal comedy; and moral messages of family cohesion and understanding, this film is likely to entertain both children and adults alike. However, due to scary scenes and visual images, this film is not suitable for children under 8 years old, and parental guidance is recommended to 12 years old due to science fiction themes of a robot apocalypse and family discord that may distress younger viewers.

The main messages from this movie are that understanding the experiences of others – especially those who are different to ourselves – allows us to be more compassionate and to get along better; and that listening to the ideas of others and appreciating their unique perspective of a situation can be a valuable tool when learning and problem solving.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Respecting each other and our differences.
  • The importance of engaging with others without technology.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Comparing oneself to others, particularly to a curated version of someone shown online – Linda repeatedly compares her life to her ‘perfect’ neighbours which both impacts her own self-esteem and may encourage her children to model similar behaviour with their peers.
  • Overuse of technology and social media – The film reminds viewers of the dangers of constant technology use in terms of experiencing the world around them and the potential impact on social relationships.