MANILA -- It’s only been less than a week since Netflix started streaming “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” on its platform, and the animated action-comedy film has already captured the hearts of many viewers in the Philippines.
As of writing, the movie is the Top 2 content in Netflix Philippines, just behind the South Korean series “Vincenzo.”
The film follows an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of their biggest challenge yet: saving the world from the robot apocalypse.
It stars with creative outsider Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) getting accepted into the film school of her dreams and is eager to leave home and find “her people,” when her nature-loving dad insists on having the whole family drive her to school and bond during one last totally-not-awkward-or-forced road trip.
Just when the trip can’t get any worse, the family suddenly finds itself in the middle of the robot uprising.
Everything from smartphones, to roombas, to evil Furbys are employed to capture every human on the planet, and it is up to the Mitchells -- including upbeat mom Linda (Maya Rudolph), quirky little brother Aaron, their squishy pug Monchi, and two friendly but simple-minded robots (one of them voiced by Beck Bennett) to save humanity.
In a roundtable interview with ABS-CBN News, Jacobson, Rudolph and Bennett talked about what attracted them to this project.
“I met Mike Rianda (director) and he told me about this wildly wonderful, unique vision he had for this movie. It was so obvious it was something that came from his life, his love for animation and being an artist and being such a creative person and also his love for his family,” Rudolph said.
For her, the idea of a regular family going into these extreme adventures “could be so fun and funny, but could be so visually wonderful.”
“It was so exciting. I feel like it’s just so nice to be able to tell such a unique story through the eyes of someone who is just so naturally gifted and in their element. I felt so lucky to see Mike’s vision come into life,” she said.
Jacobson and Bennett shared the same sentiment, saying it was an immediate “yes” for them too because of Rianda and the whole team behind it.
“I love the recalibration of relationship, the way in which families grow and change, and expand and contract. It had so much heart in a way in which my character’s journey is all about the recalibration of family. I feel like I’ve been constantly in that recalibration with my own family and my friends, and I related so much not only to Katie but a lot of the character,” Jacobson said.
“It was really everybody involved,” Bennett said: “I came in a little bit later. To see Abbi and Maya and everybody else voicing these characters, knowing their work and meeting Mike, it was kind of an immediate yes, whatever you’re doing I want to be a part of.”
Meanwhile, all three shared the one thing about their respective characters they identified with the most.
“One thing I identify with my character the most, I think, is the propulsion to make things. I don’t know why, but I feel like I want to tell stories and I want to put things out into the world. I think maybe because it is that thing of feeling a little misunderstood at my core that I am kind of looking for ways in which to share. I love that Katie does that in every which way she can find,” Jacobson said.
Rudolph, for her part, relates to Linda’s unwavering love for her family and the drive to make it the best it could possibly be for everybody.
“I think she is aware of how lucky she is, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a parent and to watch my kids grow, and to honor them for who they are, and see them continue to shine and become their own completely unique selves. Loving your weird, quirkiness of your own family is something I can really relate to,” she said.
Bennett, who plays a robot, meantime, said he relates so much to how his character also has a journey of finding itself because it was programmed to be a certain way.
“It sort of has an awakening, a change of perspective and is sort of discovering the world in a different way. Similar to Katie, she knows exactly what she wants and she is going after it. I think that there is a different part of that journey, earlier in the journey where you’re kinda going like, ‘The things that I was given, was that what I want or maybe I want something else?’ That’s something I can really relate to,” he said.
With the movie making its lead characters deal with advanced innovations, Jacobson, Rudolph and Bennett likewise shared to ABS-CBN News their thoughts about the role technology plays in everyone’s lives at present time.
“I think it’s easier and harder [to connect with one another given all the technology available],” Bennett said.
“I am seeing people’s lives all the time because of Instagram or whatever you’re on. You’re seeing what people are doing all the time. People are commenting on what you’re doing. In a way it’s easier to connect. But then, at the same time, I’m seeing a new generation communicating so much more than I do and having sort of a code, just a general sort of ways of behavior that they just learned. And I don’t know, and I haven’t adapted, so it’s a bit confusing.”
The same is true for Jacobson, saying the new technology makes it easier functionally but “the actual level of connection is way harder.”
“We are all connected, I know what everyone’s up to, but I am finding it harder to find deeper connection right now. For me, technology makes those relationships really crystal clear in my life and maybe I wonder, without so much technology, if there would be more connections that would be deeper personally,” she said.
As for Rudolph, she does not want to brand advanced technology a “necessary evil” because it’s incredible to see what it’s done, but she also wishes people could look at each other’s faces a lot more.
“Obviously, if we could all be in person that way that we’ve been, we recognize what quality of life that is when you don’t have it. And then maybe some of the things we could do without. It’s a real push and pull,” she said.
Aside from Jacobson, Rudolph and Bennett, the movie’s voice cast also includes Rianda himself, Danny McBride, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien, Doug the Pug, Sasheer Zamata, Elle Mills, Alex Hirsch, and Jay Pharoah.
The film started streaming on Netflix last April 30.
Read our review of the film here.