Entertainment29 April 2021
Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Beck Bennett, Fred Armisen, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are just some of the famous voices you’ll hear in the action-packed animated comedy The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Behind the scenes, the film also has impressive auspices too in director Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls) and producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and Kurt Albrecht (The Proud Family). It’s a wild story about an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse - while on a road trip to drop their daughter Katie off at film school.
Before The Mitchells vs. The Machines debuts on April 30, here are 11 behind-the-scenes facts:
The film combines two different styles of animation. One is a more illustrative, hand-painted approach, while the other embraces the realism seen in most CG films today.
It went through many iterations over the course of its development including versions that featured a TV show called Everybody Loves Killbot, VR helmets that could make all your fantasies come true, and the Mitchells kidnapping the President of the United States.
The filmmakers incorporated a fully developed robot language throughout the film, with tons of hidden jokes for any intrepid fans to translate. “The freeze-frame jokes on The Simpsons always felt like so much fun and such an exciting part of the show. It rewarded your attention and told you the people behind the show were having fun,” says director Mike Rianda. “We wanted to have that same spirit in our movie. We hope the more love we can put into it, the more love people will get out of it.”
The film is littered with freeze frame moments where Katie is writing on the screen. In it are Katie’s own pitches for a sequel including The Mitchells vs. The Aliens, The Mitchells vs. An Army of Clones, The Mitchells vs. The Concept of Death, and The Mitchells: Into the Furby-Verse.
Since Katie Mitchell is a movie fan, her room, backpack, and clothes are littered with movie references for cinephiles. She is wearing The Shining-patterned socks, a Wes Anderson-inspired “Lawn Wranglers” pin on her backpack, and a Dr. Strangelove pin. Her movie heroes are Céline Sciamma, Lynne Ramsey, Hal Ashby, and Greta Gerwig, and her movie parodies include: Monchi: Fear Eats the Soul and Fear and Loathing in Central Michigan.
The Mitchells team took a trip to Cal Tech to watch a student-led robot battle and talk to engineers to see what the future of robotics would look like so they could incorporate that into the story.
It’s a nod to the past also: Many of the robots featured in the third act of the movie were inspired by the classic humanoid ASIMO robot, introduced by Honda two decades ago.
The Mitchells’ family dog Monchi is based on Mike Rianda’s sister’s pug, Monchichi, who, much like his cartoon counterpart, was very excitable, wall-eyed, and had a hard time catching things.
Instagram star Doug the Pug (@itsdougthepug) provided all of the grunts, sneezes, barks, licks, and other dog noises for Monchi.
The Mitchells’ road trip begins in their hometown in Michigan and ends in Silicon Valley. “Originally, we thought the Mitchells would drive from California to New York, but then as the script evolved, we had the family drive west. They take the mule tour in Appalachia, visit DinoStop in Kansas, and The Mall of the Globe in eastern Colorado,” says Rianda.
The earliest members of the film’s creative team went on a road trip to Las Vegas (where the climax of the movie was originally set) and found inspiration for Dino-Land at Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner and Dino-Saur Park (as well as the Cabazon Dinosaur park, and the now shuttered Prairie Dog Town in Kansas).
The Mitchells vs. the Machines premieres April 30 on Netflix.