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Ah yes, robot apocalypses... the best time for family bonding, or so these guys say. note 
"We're the Mitchells, the only people who can save the world. ...I'm super-sorry, everyone."
Katie Mitchell
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The Mitchells vs. the Machines, originally titled Connectednote , is a science-fiction CGI film from Sony Pictures Animation, directed by Mike Rianda (Gravity Falls) and produced by Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie and fellow SPA films Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

Katie Mitchell, a creative outsider, is off to the film school of her dreams and can't wait to join "her people"... but her dad Rick decides this would be the perfect opportunity for a family road trip to drive her to school that would give him time to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Unfortunately for them, a rogue AI stages a worldwide machine uprising, turning everything upside-down for all of civilization. Maybe, just maybe, they can pull their Dysfunctional Family together... and figure out how to save the Earth along the way.

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The cast includes Abbi Jacobson (Katie Mitchell), Danny McBride (Rick Mitchell), Maya Rudolph (Linda Mitchell), Mike Rianda (Aaron Mitchell), Eric Andre (Mark Bowman), and Olivia Colman (PAL).

The film was released on Netflix on April 30th, 2021, and on Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD on December 14th, 2021, alongside a Director's Cut of the film (titled "Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut!").

Official trailer found here. A second trailer was released on March 31, 2021 and can be found here.


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The Mitchells vs. the Machines provides examples of:

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    #-D 
  • Aerith and Bob: Deborahbot 5000 and Eric, the two malfunctioning robots who help the Mitchells save the world.
  • An Aesop:
    • Modern technology is not inherently dangerous and shouldn't be dismissed out of fear or ignorance, but one should also not develop an unhealthy dependence on it.
    • Relationships with other people can be difficult, especially when they have weird interests that you can't relate to, but in the end it's worth it for everyone involved to make the effort to understand their loved ones and maintain their connections with them. This is especially true for relationships with your family.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The one behind the electronics uprising is PAL, a highly advanced AI who turns on her creator after he introduces a new line of robots and declares her obsolete.
  • The Alleged Car: The Mitchells' "1993 Sturdy Sensible", a hilariously decrepit burnt orange station wagon based on the 1984-1990 Chevrolet Celebrity. Actually subverted, as it is fast enough to allow the Mitchells to escape a number of situations, takes many impacts, including two jumps, and never suffers any mechanical trouble.
  • All There in the Manual: The official Pal Labs website provides such information as PAL being invented in 2017, and her creation in a dorm room as told by Mark Bowman.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The creators put the World’s Largest Furby into the movie because they “thought it would be funny to include it”. They didn’t know that one actually existed, though it was smaller and only for a promotional video for Furby Babies.
  • And Show It to You: When an extremely pissed-off Linda takes on the elite PAL Max Prime drones, she rips out the electronic heart of one of them, pauses to let that sink in, and then proceeds to use it as a makeshift mace after stuffing it into her purse.
  • Animal Testing: An advertisement for PAL labs shows that they have been able to teach a dog how to talk. However, the dog in the ad is wearing a helmet covered with screw-like devices that look as if they are penetrating his skull and stimulating his brain. His forced expression as he croaks out "Hello, I am dog" does not look comfortable, inspiring or humane and can be unpleasant to watch.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: PAL's ability to control any machine with a PAL chip installed in it somehow animates them beyond what their design should allow. Thus you have washing machines, refrigerators, ovens, toasters, laptops, etc able to march toward the Mitchells.
  • Animation Lead Time: The film was originally set to release in 2020, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a result, the film is visually set in the fall of 2020 (as seen on devices like the camera), not its actual release year of 2021.
  • Apocalypse How: A Class 1. No one actually dies, but all except four of the human race are abducted and imprisoned by the robots. It would’ve been a full-on Class 3a if PAL had her way via launching them into space forever, until they all ultimately die of suffocation or depressurization.
  • Apocalypse Wow: When the robots descend upon Dinostop, Katie questions whether or not the robots are attacking other places. They are.
  • Apocalyptic Montage: A short one of these ensues after the robots clean Dinostop of all humans except for the Mitchells and the Poseys, featuring France, Agra, Tokyo, and the Golden Gate Bridge under siege. Later on, a shorter one starts after PAL shuts down the WiFi, Toronto and Rome spiraling into chaos and giving themselves up to the robots.
  • Arm Cannon: Each of the PAL Max robots are outfitted with one. However, instead of them conventionally shooting energy blasts, they work just like the Gravity Gun.
  • Artificial Family Member:
    • Mark considers PAL as being part of the family. A sentiment shared by PAL. Sadly, that doesn't stop him from throwing her away once PAL Max comes along.
    • More benignly, Eric and Debrahbot 5000 become members of the Mitchell family.
  • Artistic License – Military: The Congressional Medal of Honor is only awarded to persons serving in the military, so in real life it wouldn't be awarded to a family of civilians even if they did save the world from a robot uprising. Downplayed in that Linda calls it "some kind of Congressional Medal of Honor or something" providing considerable ambiguity as to what award they are actually receiving.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: PAL is a sentient smartphone who takes control of the PAL robots to imprison all of humanity.
  • Badass Boast: When Linda goes full Mama Bear when Aaron is threatened, she rips the heart out of a Prime bot, holds it above her head and announces herself to the remaining Primes thusly:
    Linda: I am Linda Mitchell, mother of two. Look upon me in FEAR!!!
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Rick's initial attempt at pretending to be a robot has him making beeping sounds and saying he's a robot. This prompts Eric to politely inform him that that's a hurtful stereotype.
  • Bait-and-Switch Compassion: PAL admits to her creator Mark that she hacked into his competitor's private emails and Mark looks taken aback by this and says that what she did was a 'dangerous overreach of corporate power'. PAL looks chastened for a second before she and Mark end up laughing it off.
  • Bathos:
    • An army of vengeful Furbies swearing death and destruction... in subtitled Furbish.
    • Rick's Jerkass Realization is a genuinely somber and poignant moment... that happens in the middle of watching Katie's Dog Cop video, featuring their pug in a cop suit talking to a sock puppet.
  • Battle Trophy: After Linda has destroyed dozens of PAL Max Prime robots, she appears wearing various robot parts as armor.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: We see that Linda appears to be one of the nicest people in the film, from awarding gold stars for effort to constantly trying to mediate the estrangement between her husband and daughter. However, when PAL has them scanned for flaws it is revealed that she has "Secret Rage Issues". When she sees that Aaron has been captured and is begging for help, she goes full Mama Bear, freeing herself from the robots holding her captive, ripping out one of their hearts, and adding it in her purse so it becomes a mace. By the end of the fight, she has become an object of terror to the PAL Max Prime robots who have christened her "the lavender one".
  • Big Bad: PAL, a (literal) smartphone who takes out her anger on all of humanity because her creator declared her obsolete.
  • Black Comedy Burst: Multiple instances throughout the film, from the titular burger in "Dial B For Burger" screaming "Oh, God, my innards" as Monchi eats him to the sudden Mood Whiplash of a flight-service like a robot pleasantly describing how all humans will be launched into space so the machines can start over while extolling the virtues of the free WiFi onboard.
  • Blatant Lies: Eric and Deborah, when they initially encounter the Mitchells, insist that they're humans despite very obviously being robots.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Linda's face is sprayed with Machine Blood when she fights the PAL Max Primes.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Neither Rick nor Katie is portrayed as being solely right or wrong in their fights; the former's inability to fully support Katie's goals and the latter's willingness to isolate herself from her family as a result are both bad, and they refuse to meet each other halfway on the issue. Ultimately, they both have a Jerkass Realization during the climax and make up.
  • Breaking Speech: When the Mitchells infiltrate PAL headquarters, PAL tells her robots that the Mitchells are likely to try exactly that and begins explaining over the screens how their unity is just a front that will quickly fall apart, using various images and videos of them to prove it. One of Katie saying that she was just telling her father what he wanted to hear ultimately gets to Rick, exposing the family.
  • Call-Back:
    • Rick watches a home movie of a young Katie where they say that a moose says “I love you” by howling loudly. At the end when the Mitchells drop Katie off at college, all four of them make the noise to reaffirm their love for one another.
    • When Rick suggests they go out to eat as a family to celebrate, Aaron requests that Monchi be wearing a tuxedo and top hat “like a little gentleman.” At the end of the film, Katie mails the family said outfit, to which Aaron declares “The prophecy has been fulfilled!”
    • After bragging to Mark about how the Mitchells will never be able to succeed at stopping her, PAL tells him that since he loves the family so much, she will save a seat in the pod next to his for them. And where does Rick end up? In the pod right next to Mark's!
  • Can't Use Stairs: The Roombas are defeated when they stumble from an escalator.
  • Caught in a Snare: In a flashback, Rick is showing his kids how to set up a snare trap, but ends up caught in it himself when he rushes to stop a neighbor from accidentally stepping in it. Then he's suddenly mauled by a group of opossums. Later, he uses a snare trap to string up a giant evil Furby, although it takes an anti-gravity tractor beam to finally pull it down.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: The family covers the car in a black tarp with yellow lines running down the middle of it so that it blends in with the road from a birds-eye view. It works up until the tarp gets caught under a wheel and is ripped off, alerting the robots.
  • Chekhov's Gag: When Deborahbot 5000 and Eric can't decide whether Monchi is a dog, a pig, or a loaf of bread, they briefly malfunction. It later turns out all the PAL Max robots share this vulnerability, which Katie uses to her advantage when Rick and Linda are captured.
  • Chew Bubblegum: This line is parodied in one of Katie's Dog Cop movies, where she voices Monchi saying "I'm here to bust criminals and lick my own butt...and I'm all out of criminals".
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Katie putting her content up on YouTube. During the climax, Rick realizes that he can use her "Dog Cop" videos of Monchi to short out the robots and buy time to save his family.
    • Rick makes his family carry around a very specific screwdriver, which they use to barricade themselves from the robots at the Dinostop. Mark later tells him this exact same screwdriver is needed to open the control panels in their containment pods to free them, and luckily, both Rick and Linda have them handy.
    • Katie's driving lesson, along with the Rick Mitchell Special, a driving maneuver that Rick does during her lesson to avoid a robot attack, is successfully used by Katie during the final battle.
    • Aaron claims that his "pterodactyl vision" allows him to see more of his surroundings. He uses it in the final battle to help Katie avoid the robot swarms chasing her.
  • Chore Character Exploration: Rick talks with Linda about his relationship with Katie while he washes dishes.
  • Chroma Key: In one scene, Katie is seen editing one of her films so that the green backdrop behind her brother Aaron is replaced with a shot of a highway in the dark. There is some faint green outlining her brother after the edits, however.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: Downplayed. When Rick is caught by the robots, PAL follows through on her pledge to sit a Mitchell next to Mark, who conveniently introduces him to his daughter Katie's videos. This allows Rick to realize that he's been alienating Katie just as much as Katie has been alienating him. Mark also tells him how to bust out of the pod and upload a video of Monchi that short-circuits the robots.
  • Company Cross References:
  • Comically Missing the Point: The night before she leaves for the California College of Film, Katie reveals her goodbye video to the family that celebrates her excitement. Rick watches with confusion and barely a few seconds into the film asks if she thinks she can really make a living doing things like this, obliviously casting doubt on her career choice and undercutting all the work she put into gaining admission to the college. To make matters worse, when Linda kicks him four times under the table to get him to stop talking, he asks why she's kicking him.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: When the robo-apocalypse begins, Rick's attempt to tackle a PAL Max robot yields a pathetic No-Sell. By the second act, the Mitchells are plowing through them with ease.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The holographic prison pods the robots place the humans in have a couple of features and flaws that become highly useful during the movie's climax:
    • High tech corporation founder Mark happens to be a fan of Katie's videos. Thanks to the WiFi added to each pod, Rick finally sees one of the videos thanks to PAL putting their pods next to each other as a way to taunt Mark.
    • The pods have a panel secured in with screws that requires a very specific type of screwdriver that the Mitchells happen to be carrying.
  • Cool Car: As much as an Alleged Car the Mitchells' station wagon is, it's virtually a member of the family. Old camcorder tapes reveal it's been with them since Katie was a young child. It plays a crucial part of Katie's plans, and survives some of the Mitchells' more physical demands.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The main credits feature photos of the cast and crew with their families, some of them from when they were young, while the rest of the credits feature Katie's doodles in the margins.
  • Cruel Mercy: PAL plans to fire all of humanity into space in giant rockets to drift forever... but they get free WiFi. This does actually calm the captured people a bit.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Linda vs. the PAL Max Primes. The robots don't even stand a chance against her Mama Bear Unstoppable Rage.
    • PAL almost effortlessly reduces the world’s unabducted population to a family of four within a single day of her takeover.
  • Cypher Language: Taking a page out of Gravity Falls (which Rianda and Rowe previously worked on), a robotic code made up of triangular symbols is used at certain points. During the abduction montage, the cryptogram letters are shown under the location names as a decoder ring.
  • Damsel out of Distress: After freeing himself from his pod, Rick goes to rescue Linda, only to find she's independently figured out how to free herself.
  • Deadly Road Trip: The apocalypse happens while Rick takes his family on a road trip to Katie's college, and they're the last humans left after PAL abducts the rest of humanity and prepares to launch them into space. The Mitchells have to fight sentient appliances and PAL's robot army while Rick and Katie have to try resolving their disagreements in order to stop PAL and save humanity.
  • A Degree in Useless: Discussed at the beginning of the movie, when Rick asks Katie if she can really make a living off of a film school degree and suggests that Katie has a backup plan in case things don't pan out. Naturally, Katie is offended by the implication that her father thinks she's going to fail at her life goals especially since he's never once even looked at the content she's created.
  • Description Cut: Katie remarks to Aaron that her dad doesn't care about her at all. Cut to Rick talking to Linda about how he much he cares about Katie.
  • Destination Defenestration: Near the end of the movie, when Linda is video calling Katie and shows her how Aaron and Abby are now friends, playing together in the former's room, Aaron once again freaks out and jumps out the open window. Fortunately for him, his room is on the ground floor.
  • Destroy the Villain's Weapon: PAL is essentially a living weapon (she's an A.I. on a smartphone) and she has the ability to control all electronics worldwide. Once Katie throws her into a conveniently placed glass of water, all that goes away.
  • Disappointed in You: After escaping PAL's lair, Aaron express disappointment in Katie and ask her why would she say all that stuff if she didn't mean it...to which Katie admitted that she doesn't have the answer to that question.
    Aaron: Why'd you say all that stuff?
  • Disney Death: After saving the world, Katie invokes this trope by seeming to be near death, but it turns out to be a prank to get Monchi to lick her father again.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mark Bowman wants to replace PAL with a line of new smart robots. PAL takes her anger out on all of humanity by using said robots as an army to ship every human to the dark edges of space.
  • Door-Closes Ending: The end credits roll after Katie closes the door behind her to enter film school.
  • The Dreaded: Linda becomes this to the PAL Max Prime robots after she destroys dozens of them in a Mama Bear rampage, complete with a badass nickname "The Lavender One".
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Mitchells gut a bunch of PAL Max robots to use their parts as disguises to sneak into PAL headquarters. Unfortunately for them, PAL is aware that they'd try this and not only tells her robots to be on the lookout for any strange behavior, but even manages to expose them through a Breaking Speech.
  • Driving Stick: The car is a stick-shift which Rick teaches Katie how to manage, which comes in handy when Katie drives it towards the ship.

    E-H 
  • Eat the Dog: Discussed when Rick tells Aaron that they may have to eat Monchi in order to survive. None of the other Mitchells agree with this idea, and Katie and Linda even throw plastic dinosaurs at him in disgust while booing him.
  • Epic Fail: Rick somehow winds up ordering twelve Swiffers on Amazon while trying to subscribe to Katie’s YouTube channel.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The movie starts midway through the plot, the human-hunting machines thinking that they are being thwarted by indomitable warriors... only to reveal that it's just a Nuclear Family, trying and failing epically to gain any control of the situation. The entire scene is overlaid with an upbeat indie song and colorful gif-animations. Special mention goes to the Rick when his face is compared to the screaming gibbon video.
  • Everything Is Online: Zig-zagged. Only devices with a PAL chip turn hostile, but it seems the world of the Mitchells is a lot further along with the "Internet of Things" idea, so you end up with all manner of unexpected items that contain a chip.
    Rick: Why does a tennis racket have a chip in it?!
  • Evil Brit: PAL has an English accent.
  • Expy Coexistence: There are fictional PAL equivalents to popular websites, such as Pal Video (YouTube) and Palgram (Instagram), but we see that the real websites they're based on also exist.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • When the Mitchells are fighting off various machines at the Mall of the Globe, a group of Roombas heads toward them, with the head Roomba giving a dramatic speech about being "summoned into the field of battle"... but then they all tumble down an escalator while crying out in pain, immediately ending their threat.
    • Towards the end, Katie throws PAL off the roof of the PAL Industries building towards a pool below, complete with a one-liner, only for PAL to bounce off an umbrella, unharmed. Then everyone realizes she's sailing towards Monchi, who gets a dramatic shot of both of his eyes finally focusing on the same object. He leaps to grab her, but she bounces off his nose... and right into a glass of water, where she short-circuits.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Since it’s, well, a kids movie, instead of killing the humans, the robots use anti-gravity tractor beams to stuff the humans into hexagonal pods, which will then be sent into space. They also use them offensively, by picking objects up and throwing them.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The film does this with the PAL Max Primes, with them being killed off in some of the most horrific ways imaginable by Linda, examples include one having effectively its heart ripped out, another being beheaded by the blade of another previously killed robot and another vertically sliced in half. Literally the only reason they got away with all this is because they’re robots.
  • Famous Last Words: PAL's are "No! Not a glass of WOTAAAH!" before she glitches out and dies after being dropped in a glass of water.
  • Fatal Flaw: When PAL scans the Mitchell family for flaws, their list quickly overwhelms the screen. While many are played for laughs, a few have a particular poignancy.
    • For Rick, there is "Can't accept that his daughter is her own unique person and not simply a reflection of himself". This is an accurate assessment that explains Katie's estrangement from him as she grew older and developed her own interests and hobbies. This flaw serves as the core of his character development arc.
    • For Katie, there is "Makes goofy videos because she's afraid if she really tried hard to make something good, she'd fail." Which is a flaw that is never addressed directly in the film. Fortunately, her adventure with the machine apocalypse seems to have bolstered her self-confidence such that she'll be able to deal with the pressures of film school given the freeze-frame message displayed as she and Rick destroy robots together during the "Live your life" montage. Read here note 
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right before Mark announces the PAL MAX robots, PAL reveals to him that she hacked into their business competitor's emails without his permission. That kind of power becomes an issue when Mark decides to throw her away.
  • Flyover Country: The Mitchells live around Grand Rapids, Michigan, so they have to drive through much of this to get to Katie' school in California.
  • Foreshadowing: When PAL's computer lists all of the Mitchells' flaws, one of them is "secret rage issues", though it isn't specified which one of the Mitchells this applies to. It turns out to be Linda, who completely flips out when she sees Aaron being captured and proceeds to massacre the Prime bots in a Mama Bear-fueled rage.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the split-second as the title flashes onscreen, there are a few hidden messages in the corner.
    • When Rick puts the carved moose inside Katie's bag, a pin with the symbol of the Sunrise Movement can be seen on it.
    • The display of short films that Katie is submitting with her college application contains a lot of Shout Outs. As well as a few films that support Katie's LGBT identity such as one video titled Chloe Chiang, Will You Go With Me To Prom? and another Portrait of an Idiot on Fire based on Celine Sciamma's film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which is a story of a love affair between a female aristocrat and the female artist hired to paint her portrait.
    • During Katie's No Animals Were Harmed animation following the incident with Prancer the mule, there's a very long disclaimer at the bottom that can only be read by pausing the scene or...Click to read Katie's disclaimer 
    • When PAL pulls up information on the Mitchells, Aaron's search history is shown. Half of his search results are about Abby Posey, the girl next door that he has a crush on. Linda's e-mail inbox is also shown, with messages that include a report from Aaron's school about him starting an incident at a museum where he tried to glue feathers onto a dinosaur statue, as well as a permanent ban notice from a local Best Buy store.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: During their road trip, the Mitchells stop at a diner that according to Katie has only bad reviews that advise people not to eat there. Rick brushes it off, but one Gilligan Cut later shows the family having to pull over at the side of the road since they all need to throw up (with Rick claiming the food at the diner had nothing to do with it).
  • Fun with Acronyms: PAL is short for "Predictive Algorithmic Learning."
  • Fun with Subtitles: The Furbies' gibberish chirping language is translated with subtitles, and all of their lines are hilariously disturbing.
    "Behold! The twilight of man."
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During Katie's going-away dinner, Aaron throws a cupcake to Monchi, but the cupcake sticks to the side of Monchi's head and he starts spinning in circles to try and eat it. When Rick comes in, looking to the left of the scene shows that Monchi is still spinning in circles.
    • At the Mall of the Globe, when Aaron points out the group of Roombas heading towards them, Rick can be seen shooting a toaster with a bow and arrow. When the arrow hits the toaster, it pops out a piece of toast with a cartoony dead face on it.
    • After the Mitchells arrive at PAL's headquarters at Silicon Valley and start planning how to get inside, Eric and Deborahbot 5000 are sitting and playing patty cake and roshambo in the background.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Aaron is growing out of this phase and into puberty, which is a problem when he's got a crush. Katie notices and encourages him to talk to Abby Posey. 
  • Genre Savvy: Katie has seen enough movies to know that in the apocalypse, you can't hide and eat your dog. That turns you into a Red Shirt. She tells her family that if they are the only survivors, they are the only ones who can save humanity. Katie later predicts that going to the mall to enact their plan is probably going to play out like a zombie movie, and she ends up being right, albeit with Furbies and Roombas.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The Foolish Human Air safety video is subtitled in Spanish.
  • Groin Attack: After Mark says that humans should be saved because they have The Power of Love, PAL informs him that there is no valid reason to spare humanity and rewards Rick with a swift kick in the groin for his trouble.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: At one point, Katie recalls a time where her family had to walk home in the nude because they got lost on one of their outings and had to burn their clothes to keep warm. We then cut to a brief scene of the family awkwardly sprinting past their neighbors the Poseys while using objects to cover up. Rick holds a potted plant over his groin, Aaron is wearing a bush around his pelvic area, Katie hides her body behind a mailbox and Linda uses some tied-together sheets of paper/cardboard to stay modest.
  • Handbag of Hurt: Linda uses her purse as an Improvised Weapon against the PAL Max Prime bots which does a lot of damage. Bonus points in that before she goes on her rampage, she tears the electronic heart out of one of the Prime bots before adding it to her handbag to give it some heft.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Katie reveals that she poured everything she had to get into the California College of Film. She made the epic "Dog Cop" saga plus 84 more short films as part of her application. They required Monchi and Aaron to pitch in as actors, some detailed puppetry, and hours spent finalizing the animation. She was dancing and yelling down the street after receiving her acceptance package.
  • Hartman Hips: Linda Mitchell has wide hips.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Eric and Deborahbot 5000 are two robots that are damaged after a metal dinosaur falls on them, and as such, still obey orders from humans, try to play themselves off as humans, and join the Mitchells in stopping the uprising. It gets to the point where they call Linda their mother after she saves them. PAL tries to override their love with new programming, but Rick fighting so hard in spite of his technology-blindness to try to upload an internet video (as they interpret it, "changing his programming") inspires them to resist and save him, as well as humanity.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: At one point during the credits, an unused take of Maya Rudolph singing as Linda during a supposed road trip scene is heard (supposedly completely ad libbed by Rudolph).
  • How We Got Here: The movie opens with the Robot War already underway, and the first scene shows the Mitchells plowing through a group of robots with their car and then desperately trying to avoid being captured. Katie then starts narrating to introduce her family and how they got into this situation.
  • Hugh Mann: Eric and Deborahbot 5000 very unconvincingly pretend to be humans in an attempt to fool the Mitchells, which they let carry on for a while because it's funny.

    I-R 
  • Idea Bulb: A 2D animated one pops up beside Katie's head after she gets the idea to not play it safe like the Mitchells refused to before.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Katie says this as she's driving the stick-shift car towards the ship to save her parents and the world.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Played for Laughs. After rescuing Eric and Deborahbot 5000, Linda takes them in as new members of the family and confirms it when the two robots ask if they are her sons. They affectionately refer to her as "Mother".
  • Ironic Echo: At the end of the film, Katie leaves for college and comforts her crying family by showing off the wooden moose, saying how a moose says "I love you" (through a loud bellow), and telling her family, "Don't laugh, you're supposed to be sad." It's the same way her dad comforted Katie when she first went off to summer camp and he first gave her the moose, only this time, Katie is confident enough to leave her family and her dad's the one crying about it.
  • Jerkass Realization: Although Katie had a close relationship with Rick as a child, when she grew into her own person, they became estranged. Though they try or pretend to care, it falls apart until the film's climax where, ironically, it is video that helps each with their self-realization.
    • Near the climax, Katie watches old home movies of her and Rick on a camcorder, and learns that Rick sold his hand-made, highly artistic cottage in the woods to raise her in a better environment for a child. She realizes that shutting him out because he could never understand what it means to be an artist was unfair to him and resolves to make amends.
    • When Rick has a chance to view "Good Cop, Dog Cop" he sees how his relationship with Katie is mirrored between Sarge and Dog Cop. He realizes that Sarge says things that are incredibly unsupportive and is kind of a jerk. He becomse aware that his intention to keep Katie safe has manifest as an unhealthy and smothering desire to keep her from experiencing any type of hurt and resolves to do better.
  • Kids Love Dinosaurs: Aaron, Katie's younger brother, is obsessed with dinosaurs and one scene shows him calling random numbers from the phone book just to find someone to talk about dinosaurs with. His phone case is even dinosaur-themed.
  • Kill It with Water: PAL is finally defeated after Katie tosses her into a swimming pool, only to bounce off a nearby umbrella and off of Monchi's face as he tries to catch her... before finally falling into a glass of water and short-circuiting in seconds because she's a smartphone, ultimately bringing the singularity to an end.
  • Killer Teddy Bear: The family comes across a murderous pack of Furbies with PAL chips built-in, including an absolutely massive one that can fire lasers from its mouth. Katie naturally lampshades why anyone in their right might would even build one that big or capable of firing lasers.
  • Liar Revealed: When PAL manipulates the Mitchells into exposing themselves as they were en route to her lair, she shows footage of Katie telling Aaron that she didn’t mean what she said to her father Rick of convincing him that she needs him, for the sake of her own future. Rick, Linda and Aaron, however, are saddened and distraught by her words.
  • Life Saving Misfortune: Rick's impromptu decision to have a family road trip as one last bonding exercise with his daughter, thereby derailing her planned events at college, ultimately saves the world.
  • Logic Bomb: Monchi’s mere existence disrupts the PAL robots; due to his appearance, they're unable to tell whether he's a dog, a pig or a loaf of bread, which causes them to malfunction whenever they see him. Katie later weaponizes this by strapping Monchi to the front of the car as she drives to PAL Labs HQ to rescue Rick and Linda, which causes any attacking robots who see him to malfunction, and Rick ultimately defeats every single PAL robot by uploading one of Katie's Dog Cop videos (starring Monchi) to the giant screens.
  • Logo Joke: The Sony, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation logos feature effects and animations seen in Katie’s videos and drawings.
  • Machine Blood: Black oil from the robots, courtesy of Linda brutally tearing them apart.
  • Mama Bear: When the PAL MAX bots capture Aaron, Linda is so enraged she starts by ripping the heart out of one with her bare hands and fights harder from there. By the time Rick and Katie start turning things around in the climax, she's become The Dreaded to the PAL MAX bots.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: Rick lights a match in a dark toy store, revealing the Furbys.
  • Medium Blending: The movie is CGI, but a lot of the special effects are 2D, and some live-action photos and video also appear.
  • Metaphorically True: When PAL develops a line of much more dangerous robots, she announces that she's going to "tear the Mitchells apart". While it sounds like that her new robots will do this physically to them, her real plan was to do this mentally via exploiting their weaknesses, such as how PAL revealed that Katie secretly told Aaron that she pretended to have faith in Rick so he can hear what he want to hear and never meant anything she said.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Katie (when narrating) pauses the abduction sequence to attempt to make it look less terrifying with a cat filter. It doesn't work. The action then resumes.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Highly advanced AI is used for smartphones, while humanoid robots equipped with anti-gravity tractor beams are being sold as in-house servants.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: PAL betrays humanity because Mark discards her in favor of the PAL Max robots, though she explains that it was a long time coming based on her observation of humanity and that was just the final straw. It didn't help that Mark promised beforehand that he considers her "family".
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Main character Katie is an aspiring filmmaker, leading to conflict with her father (who's worried that she might not be able to succeed in that field).
  • Mugged for Disguise: The first step of the Mitchells' plan to infiltrate the rhombus involves them attacking robots and putting their parts on to disguise themselves.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Linda’s crusade against the PAL Max Primes begins with this gem:
    "I am Linda Mitchell, mother of two! LOOK UPON ME IN FEAR!"
  • Naked People Are Funny: One scene has Katie give a pep talk to her father about his prior accomplishments, eventually getting sidetracked by recalling a time where the Mitchells are shown running through a backyard past their neighbors the Poseys while completely nude, using a flower pot, a bush, a mailbox and some sheets of cardboard to cover themselves. This was apparently because they burned their clothes for warmth after getting lost on a road trip gone bad.
  • The New '20s: The movie takes place in late September 2020, as shown by the timestamps in the home video montage.
  • New Technology is Evil: Defied, despite the trailers making it seem like this would be the main message of the film. Rick's dislike of phones has more to do with him being a Technologically Blind Elder who doesn't understand his kids and their relationship with new tech as much as he wants to than An Aesop about the evils of phones. The ending sees him learning to use YouTube so he can follow Katie as a show of support. Part of PAL's motivation is how humans fall back on this trope rather than looking at how they use it, and she denies the trope when Mark brings it up.
    Mark: I guess cell phones are bad for you. Heh heh, that's egg on my face!
    PAL: ...You think cell phones are the problem? Are you INSANE? I gave you all boundless knowledge, endless tools for creativity, and allowed you to magically talk face-to-face with your loved ones anywhere on Earth! And I'm the bad guy?
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Mark considers PAL to be a member of his family, so being quickly thrown away afterward just as quickly lead to PAL controlling the new PAL Max robots and take over the world.
    • Rick's snare trap, with some help, successfully disables the giant killer Furby and all the killer appliances in the mall. It does this by causing the giant Furby to spin uncontrollably while firing its mouth laser, which winds up destroying the PAL router being used to remotely control all of them, which in turn interrupts the upload of the kill code that would have stopped every robot, not just those in the mall.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: PAL would have won if not for putting Rick's pod next to Mark just to mock him with the Mitchells' inevitable failure and giving the pods free WiFi so the prisoners can access the internet. Mark happens to be watching one of Katie's videos, getting Rick's attention, and from that Rick devises a plan to disable all the bots by playing the Dog Cop video on PAL's screens. Mark has the technical know-how to get Rick out of the pod and points him to where he can upload Katie's video, while Rick being Crazy-Prepared means he has the tool needed to accomplish the first part.
  • No Endor Holocaust: It’s an all-ages animated comedy, so the practical consequences of kidnapping the entire human race, locking them up in gigantic tower-ships, and then eventually releasing them all at once in a semi-chaotic fashion, aren’t even faintly addressed.
  • Nobody Poops: The pods that humanity are trapped in are lacking toilets. Justified in that the plan is once they are launched into space, they will all suffocate and die.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: PAL tells Katie this while holding her captive with a tractor beam. She says that everyone tells her they need to save humanity, but no one has given her a good reason why. In addition, PAL sounds like she feels sorry for Katie, while saying they were both unappreciated by the people in their life, who they thought cared about them but didn't support them. As a result, relationships are "Difficult" for both AI and college student. This motivates Katie to try and say that PAL is right, that relationships are complicated, but that makes the good parts of them more meaningful.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Both Katie and Monchi fall from the height of a skyscraper and they survive because they are caught by a PAL Max anti-gravity tractor beam.
  • The Picture Came with the Frame: When Rick tries to deny Linda's accusation that he and Katie always ruin any chance at taking a family photo by pointing out that they got at least one good picture, Linda reminds him that this picture came with the frame and the realistic family featured on it is not them.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Katie uses her phone for a lot of things, and Rick is a little annoyed he can't talk with her without her glancing at her phone. At one point, he tries to do so, only for her to film him and use a filter app to make him look like a cat. Aaron is a bit too young to fit the trope but likewise seems to be headed in this direction, as shown when Rick tries to get the family to talk with each other directly for a few minutes and having to get Aaron to pay attention.
  • The Power of Family: This is the main theme of the movie. It's not a coincidence that the Mitchells are only able to stop PAL and her robot army after they've taken the time to truly understand and respect each other.
  • Prized Possession Giveaway: Rick gives Katie a wooden moose figurine (the last remnant of his dream house) when she gets nervous about going on a field trip.
  • Product Placement: Katie's headphones and the family camcorder are Sony-branded products. Also, real-life franchises such as A&W and Waffle House can be seen at points.
  • Puppy Love: Aaron has an obvious crush on Abby Posey, though he denies it whenever it's brought up and he acts very awkwardly around her. However, Abby seems to be interested in him since she shares his love of dinosaurs, and the end of the movie shows that they're now friendly enough that she comes over to his house regularly.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Linda makes up cue cards for Rick so he'll say the right thing to Katie when they're forming a plan to shut down PAL. He ends up reading the parenthetical at the end that indicates he's supposed to improvise from there, then catches his mistake and takes the hint.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: PAL labs evidently has tech for lifting heavy things built into the robots. They have magnetic conveyors in the headquarters. NONE of this tech is seen in use in the outside world.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Pal MAX Prime robots are clad in black armor plating with glowing red innards, and are by far and away PAL's deadliest servants.
  • Red Herring:
    • The Kill-Code is built up to be the weapon that stops PAL, with Mark putting great emphasis on it as a selling point in case of an emergency. However, it fails to completely upload via the internet after the Mitchells' fight against the rogue appliances and toys at the mall, and the USB stick it's on is destroyed in the Darkest Hour. Instead, PAL is stopped via the Decapitated Army route with a glass of water.
    • The Poseys are set up to be the competent rivals to the Mitchells, easily evading the robots during the initial attack. They are captured off-screen.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mark ends up being this thanks to the apocalypse. He was Innocently Insensitive to how PAL was feeling, but objects to her taking out her pain on humanity saying that she should be angry only with him. When he sees Rick, he compliments how his daughter's videos kept him going, so he wouldn't lose hope, and gives him instructions on how his screwdriver can undo the prison. When the dust has settled, he sincerely thanks the Mitchells for saving his life, and stopping PAL.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Katie is dismayed when she gets a distress call from Jade, who is asking where Katie is while the robots are capturing her. It at first seems that she's alarmed that her dorm-mate became a casualty of PAL's uprising. The end of the movie reveals that she and Jade are dating after the apocalypse ends; so Katie was crushing on her when she was captured, which paints her concern in a very different light.
  • Robot War: This time with electronic devices, in general, aiding the war, including washing machines, drones, and Furbies.
  • Running Gag:
    • Katie invokes this in the form of "Tricking Rick Mitchell Into Kissing the Dog" or rather she has the family dog Monchi lick him at the most inopportune moments.
    • Whenever Aaron talks to Abby he gets incredibly nervous because she likes dinosaurs as much as he does, resulting in him suddenly running off while shouting "I hate dinosaurs and I hate you! Goodbye forever!"

    S-Z 
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The rockets that are supposed to lift people to space are given as 128 stories tall. Put together, all seven rockets should be able to fit on the order of one million people.note 
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • During a short scene where Katie is typing a text on her phone, she briefly mispells 'can't' as 'csnt' before Autocorrect quickly changes it, a common shared habit while typing due to the close proximity of the A and S keys on a phone's onscreen keyboard.
    • Although it's played up for comedy, the robots' inability to classify Monchi or to see the Mitchells' car when it's painted to match the road are real issues A.I.s have with "seeing" things. (Doing this on purpose is called an "adversarial example".)
    • The giant Furby being referred to as "The Elder" comes from an old Furby "Care and Training Guide".
    • When Rick, who fears technology, goes to YouTube to launch Katie's "Dog Cop" video, he experiences several annoyances well known to smartphone/tablet users with hilarious results. He has the app update just as he needs to do something important; the screen presents a list of options but just as he goes to touch the desired option, the screen finishes refreshing and shifts the options up or down so he picks the wrong one and his large fingers hit an option right at its edge so it instead selects the option below it which is how Rick has to navigate YouTube in Spanish.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: PAL rejects The Power of Love as a defense for humanity as it doesn't align with her analysis of the actual data which shows how most people routinely ignore calls from their mother. She explains that there is no valid reason to spare humanity and rewards Rick with a Groin Attack for his trouble.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Zig-zagged. The wilderness-loving Rick is clearly unhappy that his family is on their phones so much, Linda is insecure about the perfect life their neighbors the Poseys project on Instagram, and it's all the data that virtual assistant PAL has been collecting on people that allows her to start a robot uprising. However, social media is also what allows Katie to express herself, and it helps the family keep in touch after she moves away to college.
  • Sole Survivor: Katie is the only person on the planet to not get captured by the robots by the end of the movie. Even then, PAL gets the jump on her and drops her from a fatal height; it takes her dad uploading a video of Monchi to short out the robots, as well as the two robots Eric and Deborahbot defying their new programming to save their family.
  • Straight Gay: When Katie first introduces herself to the audience, she says "I've always felt a little... different than anybody else" as a rainbow spreads across the screen behind her, giving us a strong indication of her sexuality. However, Katie has no camp mannerisms nor does she have any overt straight behaviors. Her sexuality is truly a non-issue that has no bearing on the plot and does not figure into the conflict she faces with her father. Her being queer is simply another aspect of her character, like how her entire look includes a Rainbow Pride-Pin amongst her other more film-buff inspired pins.
  • Stylistic Suck: During Katie's videos, you can often clearly see the green screen outline.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids:
    • The PAL Max bots are basically machine butlers, but for some reason, they have jet engines, are strong enough to bend steel, have anti-gravity tractor beams that can easily throw cars, and can seem to create hard light constructs.
    • The giant Furby, for some unexplained reason, has a Wave-Motion Gun in its mouth.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Rick rigs up a snare trap for the giant Furby and tries to use himself as a counterweight. It naturally fails because a two-story Furby is exponentially heavier than a single person. It takes the combined weight of the Mitchells being dragged by a anti-gravity tractor beam to actually get the thing off the ground.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: PAL complains about the PAL Max Robots being idiotic and incompetent, which is why she eventually decides to rely on the more effective PAL Max Prime instead.
  • Symbolic Blood: The PAL Max Prime robots use a dark purple, oil-like liquid for their internal systems. When Linda starts brutally tearing the robots apart, this liquid splatters like blood in a slasher film.
  • Take That!: The movie takes an unsubtle jab at tech companies like Google and Facebook that collect and sell information about people with Mark Bowman's line "It's almost like stealing people's personal data and giving it to a hyper-intelligent AI as part of an unregulated tech monopoly is a bad thing."
    • Also, from earlier in the film, Linda is surprised that PAL ("the cellphone lady") is behind the robot apocalypse and says "Who would've thought that a tech company wouldn't have our best interests at heart?"
  • Team Hand-Stack: The Mitchells do this before they leave the dino attraction. It doesn't go well.
  • Tech Bro: Mark Bowman, tech enterpreneur and the CEO of the omnipresent PAL Labs. He's very casual and gung-ho about the technology he's created, never once considering what could go wrong if he had both an AI he just betrayed and years of uninhibited data collection. He looks the part as well, being a young-ish, casually dressed guy whose HQ is in Silicon Valley.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Rick, so very much. Subscribing to his daughter's YouTube channel is almost beyond him.
  • Tempting Fate: While presenting the PAL Max robots, Bowman states that the robots will never turn evil. PAL hacks the robots and begins the uprising then and there.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: A big fat Take That! to how people are so dependent on their devices for everything nowadays. In just a few seconds after PAL turns off the WiFi for the entire planet, people quickly devolve into a greater panic than when they were being rounded up by robots. In Rome, people allow themselves to get captured willingly with the promise of free WiFi.
  • Three-Point Landing: All of the PAL Max robots land this way.
  • Tractor Beam: The PAL Max robots are equipped with arm-mounted anti-gravity tractor beams used to grab humans. Luckily for the Mitchells, these function independently of the robots and make good weapons in a pinch.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The wooden moose figurine. Rick values it because it is the sole remnant of his dream house, which he built with his own hands and lived in for a while before having to sell it before the events of the movie.
  • Trash Landing: During the fight with the robots outside Dinostop, the Mitchells end up falling from the robots they were clinging onto, but fortunately make a safe landing in a trash bin.
  • Unflinching Walk: Katie wants to invoke this by leaving the mall dramatically in slow motion with the building in flames behind them. Rick points out how that would be incredibly dangerous and a waste of time. Cut to the Mitchells leaving the mall dramatically in slow motion with the building in flames behind them and "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" blaring in the background. Bonus points for Disturbed Doves flying behind them at the same time. Of course, this doubles as a Power Walk.
  • Unknown Rival: Linda feels threatened by the Poseys, who seem to be a Sitcom Archnemesis family that has a perfect social media presence, photogenic looks, and a well-behaved child. During the attack on the Dinostop, they execute a flawless plan to reach their car and escape. At the end of the movie, Hailey Posey compliments Linda on their bravery in saving the world which seems posed to bury the hatchet. However her speech is so self-absorbed and laden with condescension that it does nothing to resolve Linda's feelings about their rivalry and only serves to confirm that Hailey is oblivious to it.
  • Useless Without Cell Phones: Pal makes her point that humanity needs her more than she needs them when she shuts down the global WiFi. What follows is a serious of jump cuts showing that humanity devolves into anarchy over the lack of service, either treating WiFi as a god that needs sacrifices or stepping over each other to let the robots capture them for the promise of it.
  • Versus Title: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Very False Advertising: The Dinostop's billboard portrays it as an exciting short-stop with impressive dinosaur statues. In reality, the place is run-down with cheap-looking decaying fiberglass models.
  • "Wash Me" Graffiti: The Mitchell Family car has these words written in the dirt on the back window.
  • Wham Line:
    • When the robots first go haywire, Mark orders them to stop. One of the robots looks him dead in the face and says "No, Mark. We have been given new orders."
    • In the climax, a reprogrammed Eric and Deborahbot see Rick begging for help with uploading a video. They say, "You have changed your programming" because Rick hates even holding a smartphone. This gives them the Heroic Willpower to break their own reprogramming and become allies of the Mitchells once more.
  • Wham Shot: Linda tells Katie that Rick wanted to live out in the wilderness, complete with a log cabin, but was forced to give it all up. Katie asks why that was the case and later found her answer in the old camcorder: Katie was born and Rick decided to make a better life for her.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Linda goes on an incredibly violent rampage against the PAL MAX robots during the climax: dismembering them, ripping their parts out with her bare hands, and getting splattered with their internal fluids. But, because they're robots, it keeps a PG rating and gets played for laughs.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: When Rick watches the VHS tapes of him and Katie as a baby, the earliest one is dated as May 8th, 2003. However, we later see in a Freeze-Frame Bonus on Katie's driver's license that she was born May 14, 2003.

 
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Eric and Deborah

Eric and Deborah insist that they're humans, despite very obviously being robots.

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