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Film of the Week: The Mitchells Vs The Machines (Cert PG, 113 mins)

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The Mitchells Vs The Machines. Picture: PA Photo/SPAI
The Mitchells Vs The Machines. Picture: PA Photo/SPAI

A cinema nerd can’t wait to begin her first term at university, creating distance from her father whose uncool jokes now grate on her teenage nerves.

In a last-ditch effort to repair the relationship dad Rick decides to drive his daughter, Katie, to the California College of Film in the family’s burnt orange 1993 station wagon.

He hastily arranges a Mitchell clan road trip with his wife Linda, dinosaur-obsessed young son Aaron and pet dog Monchi all coming along for the ride.

During the cross-country odyssey, tech company CEO Mark Bowman (Eric Andre) launches his latest creation – robotic personal assistants – and watches in horror as his omnipresent personal assistant software Pal (Olivia Colman) goes rogue and seizes control of the automaton army.

Katie and her dysfunctional kin become mankind’s last hope to avoid extermination.

The Mitchells Vs The Machines is a rip-roaring animated comedy, which explores generational conflict in a world where humans have unwittingly empowered technology to assume control.

Director Jeff Rianda and co-director Jeff Rowe meld realistic 3D visuals with a hand-painted, illustrative scrawl that looks like heroine Katie is scribbling her thoughts directly onto the screen, including crude overlays from a popular video sharing website.

The family faces a potential machine takeover. Picture: PA Photo/SPAI
The family faces a potential machine takeover. Picture: PA Photo/SPAI

Every turbo-charged frame is littered with movie references and Rianda and Rowe’s script embraces the bonkers narrative with gusto.

Action set pieces are orchestrated with verve but there is a big heart beating beneath the digital gloss.

Kids are forcefully taken along for the ride but the sharp, often sitcom-esque humour of te film ensures that parents are equally enthralled and here the balance is pitched just right.

And when the filmmakers address underlying tensions with tenderness and sincerity, it’s not just the colourful characters who are left with dewy eyes.

Streaming from April 30 exclusively on Netflix

Featuring the voices of: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Doug The Pug.

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