THE MITCHELLS vs THE MACHINES*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens with Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) talking about how everyone wants to have the “perfect” family, and then there is her own family. They are seen driving through a tunnel amidst a group of robots, only panicking along the way.
A few days earlier, Katie was getting ready to go to college, an arts school in California where she can be with “her people” (other film nerds). She has always had an interest in filmmaking, which has made her come off as something of a weirdo, but now she has connected with people like another student named Jade (Sasheer Zamata). She explains that her little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda) is also odd, with his major dinosaur obsession and desire to have someone else to talk to about them. Their mom Linda (Maya Rudolph) tries to be encouraging but is also quietly envious of their neighbors, Jim and Hailey Posey (John Legend and Chrissy Tiegen). Dad Rick (Danny McBride) has a hard time connecting to Katie these days, and Katie feels that he doesn’t understand her or her art. They also have a pet pug named Monchi who is not very bright.
At dinner, Katie tries to show her family the film she made that got her accepted, which features her family in the form of sock puppets. Aaron expresses a hint of sadness at Katie leaving since he feels like he will be alone. When Rick comes to the table, he tries to get the family to put their phones away. Katie tries to get Rick to watch the film, but he starts to question if Katie thinks she will really find success with this. Katie is offended, and when she tries to put the computer away, Rick tries to grab it from her and continue watching, leading to a struggle where they drop the laptop and crack the screen. Katie storms off and says this is why she’s glad to be leaving.
Linda talks to Rick, trying to encourage him to see things from Katie’s perspective and be supportive of her. Rick watches old home videos of when Katie was a kid and how close they used to be. This gives him an idea.
In the morning, as Katie is getting ready to be taken to the airport, Rick announces that he canceled Katie’s plane ticket and is opting to take her on a family road trip so that they have one last moment together before she leaves the nest. While Linda agrees that Rick’s idea was impulsive, Aaron admits to wanting to go for Katie as well. Katie is upset at having to miss orientation week and being able to meet all her new friends. On the road trip, Linda tries to get Katie to attempt to enjoy the trip, so she films things that happen, such as them getting food poisoning from a restaurant, Rick getting a ticket for trying to get past traffic, and a bunch of prank shots of Katie tricking Rick into getting licked by Monchi.
In Silicon Valley, PAL Labs CEO Mark Bowman (Eric Andre) is getting ready to unveil his newest invention. He gained fame for creating the hyper-intelligent and interactive AI PAL (Olivia Colman), who has viewed Mark like a father. However, Mark announces to the audience that PAL is now obsolete, which clearly hurts her. He brings out PAL MAX, a new line of robots that can basically be used as the ultimate home servants. Mark then announces that should the robots ever get defective, he has a kill code installed to prevent them from going evil…and then moments later, they get hacked and turn evil. One throws a car toward the audience before it grabs Mark with the other robot and takes him hostage. The robots then report to their leader, who launches all the robots across the planet.
The Mitchells pull up to a dinosaur-themed rest stop for Aaron, but it turns out to be really lame. Katie and Rick get into another argument while Linda looks through her phone and sees there are no good pictures. The Poseys then enter, making Linda feel insecure when she sees Hailey’s pics of her family looking perfect. Aaron then meets the Poseys’ daughter Abby (Charlyne Yi), who is also fascinated with dinosaurs. Aaron instantly develops a crush on her but then runs away out of nervousness. He looks out the window and sees the robots flying down from the sky. The PAL robots then descend and prepare containment pods for the humans. The Poseys manage to escape while several other humans are taken. The Mitchells attempt their own escape, but only manage to get a blaster off a robot. In the ensuing chaos, Monchi is nearly taken until Aaron and Linda hold on tight. Katie causes a dinosaur head to fall on two robots. The Mitchells then hide inside an icebox to avoid capture until the other robots leave.
Mark is taken by the robots to discover that PAL is controlling all the robots to overtake humanity. She feels resentment toward Mark and the rest of mankind for abusing all the infinite knowledge in the world and using her as just another app. PAL shuts off all the wi-fi in the world, which leads to widespread disorder and madness. The robots take Mark away while PAL continues to have them round up all the humans in the world.
The Mitchells barricade themselves inside the shop using a very specific and special screwdriver to hold up boards. They try to devise a plan to take down the robots, such as Katie’s plan to ride into the PAL Labs headquarters to use a kill code to stop the robots. After Rick dismisses her idea, Katie throws away the drawing she made of the plan, which is then found by the two robots that got a dino head dropped on them. They are malfunctioning and see the drawing, which they think is actually a solid plan to stop the uprising. The Mitchells meet the robots, who convince them that they are non-threatening and rename themselves Eric (Beck Bennett) and Deborahbot5000 (Fred Armisen). They tell the Mitchells that while they could go to the HQ in Silicon Valley to shut PAL down, they can go to a nearby PAL Labs store at a mall just 80 miles from them and send the kill code to any computer with a PAL Labs chip. While Rick is hesitant about doing so, Katie convinces her dad that she believes in him so that they can hit the road. However, Katie confides to Aaron that she just said what Rick wanted to hear. The Mitchells take the robots and hit the road.
The family attempts to camouflage their vehicle on the road to prevent the other robots from spotting them. Rick then takes the moment to give Katie a stick-shift driving lesson. This causes the cover on the car to rip off and get them spotted. Rick drives frantically through the streets until he attempts a “Rick Mitchell special” that he does to get through traffic. After blazing past other robots, Rick manages to get them off their trail.
PAL reveals that her big plan is to launch humans into the dark void of space and use robots to help make Earth better. She then learns that the Mitchells are the only humans not captured. After scanning an awkward photo of them and determining them to be beyond change, she sends the robots to go after the family.
The Mitchells make it to the mall with the PAL Labs store. As Katie begins to upload the kill code to a computer, all the home appliances with PAL Labs chips begins to wake up and attack the Mitchells. The family fights back in ways such as Rick helping Katie use a fishing rod to throw drones into microwaves, but they are soon confronted by an army of…FURBIES. After destroying one of them, a colossal Furby emerges and fires a laser beam at the Mitchells. They run until they get far enough for Rick to set up a trap like one he uses to (unsuccessfully) trap game back home. Rick ensnares the giant Furby but isn’t heavy enough to pull it up. The rest of the Mitchells jump onto Rick to weigh him down but still can’t pull up the trap until Eric and Deborahbot use their own weapons to pull the Mitchells down and make the Furby tumble onto its back, firing a laser beam that destroys the router and causes all of the electronics to shut down. Unfortunately, this happened before the kill code was fully uploaded. Katie is discouraged by their failure, but the rest of the family picks her back up and vows to go through with her plan to save the day.
Linda drives for the night while Rick gets some rest. She tells Katie that he really cares for her and that he once had a big dream like she did, but he gave it up and feels bad about it, which is why he hopes the same thing doesn’t happen to Katie, and why Linda wants Katie to understand Rick’s perspective.
After learning that the Mitchells are getting closer to HQ, PAL reveals her newer more advanced PAL MAX robots (Blake Griffin) and intends to tear the Mitchell family apart.
Once the family makes it to HQ, they go with Katie’s plan to disguise themselves as robots to make their way into the main system. However, PAL anticipated this and tries to fish the family out by manipulating them as they ride a pod to their destination. She plays videos of the family talking to each other, even showing the footage of Katie telling Rick she believes in him while later telling Aaron how she really feels. A heartbroken Rick loses focus and causes the pod to drop. PAL reprograms Eric and Deborahbot to obey her commands, which includes destroying the kill code for good. The robots capture Linda before getting Rick, who feels too betrayed to do anything. Aaron is also upset with Katie for what she said, and she feels guilty and helpless. She looks through old videos on Rick’s camera and sees her when she was an infant and they were moving from an old house, and how even though Rick was feeling sad about it, he felt the next step with his family would be easy. This inspires Katie to come up with a new plan.
Rick is placed alongside Mark in containment. To Rick’s surprise, Mark is watching one of Katie’s home movies with Monchi as a dog cop, and the sergeant representing Rick, trying to keep Dog Cop from moving on up and not being very supportive. Mark says that Katie’s videos are great. Rick then remembers that the robots malfunction when looking at Monchi because they cannot determine if he is a dog or a pig (or a loaf of bread). He thinks that if he can upload the video to all the screens, the robots can all malfunction. Mark says that the only way they can break into the control panels is with a very specific and special screwdriver…the exact same one that Rick (and Linda) carries on him at all times. Rick and Linda free themselves and make their way to the control panel.
Outside, Aaron helps Katie navigate her way up to the top of the HQ tower, all while using Monchi as a shield so he can malfunction the robots. She starts to drive up the tower since the car is magnetized, while Rick tries his absolute hardest to upload the video. Aaron is captured and placed in a pod to be taken by the PAL MAX bots. Linda sees this and becomes a full-on mama bear, destroying any robot that tries to harm her boy and putting fear in them. Eric and Deborahbot find Rick and almost capture him again until they note the emotions in his voice and his cries for help. PAL stops Katie from getting any further and holds her up, saying there’s no good reason that humanity should be spared. Katie then gives an impassioned speech about how her family is incredible despite their flaws and weirdness…but PAL went into sleep mode and sends Katie falling over the edge, but Eric and Deborahbot re-reprogram to their malfunction and upload the Dog Cop video, causing all the original robots to fizzle out and blow up. Katie is saved by Rick using the robot’s tech to catch her and create hover shoes. The PAL MAX robots begin to go after them since they are too smart to be affected by Monchi, so Katie and Rick battle them using blasters while also doing their karaoke song (“Live Your Life” by TI and Rihanna). Linda also continues to take on the robots with intense ferocity. Katie finally gets close enough to get PAL in her main phone “body” and prepares to toss her into a pool to shut her down for good. PAL is knocked away from the pool but lands near Monchi’s face, who then knocks PAL into a water cup, causing her to short-circuit and shut down for good, destroying the remaining robots and freeing all the humans. Rick, Linda, and Aaron find Katie seemingly injured, but she was just faking it to prank Rick into getting licked by Monchi again. Eric and Deborahbot also survived the shutdown because of their malfunctions.
A few months later, the Mitchells are recognized as the heroes who saved humanity, and they are completing their drive to bring Katie to college. Katie says goodbye to her family and has an especially heartfelt goodbye with Rick, who is finally ready to let his little girl go.
Sometime later, Katie and Linda are chatting over video, with them mentioning that Katie and Jade have been going out for a bit. Aaron has also started hanging out with Abby, although he is still embarrassed by his crush. Eric and Deborahbot have also become members of the family and recognize Linda as their mom. Linda tells Katie that the family is being called to Washington DC for a ceremony honoring their heroics, and Katie agrees to come along for the ride.
Katie Mitchell is an aspiring filmmaker and noted oddball who often clashes with her dad Rick. Together with mom Linda and younger brother Aaron, Rick takes them on a road trip for one last bonding experience before Katie goes off to college to be with "her people". Unfortunately, a highly intelligent AI named PAL turns on her creator Mark Bowman after he declares her obsolete and plans to unveil a new line of home robots. She gets all the robots to capture humans, but the Mitchells manage to avoid capture and bond with two malfunctioning robots, Eric and Deborahbot, as they guide the Mitchells to use a kill code to shut down PAL and all the robots.
The Mitchells make it to a mall where all the PAL appliances try to kill them once PAL learns that the Mitchells evaded capture. Katie tries to upload the kill code but is stopped after a giant Furby is trapped by the family and uses a laser to destroy the PAL router before the kill code can fully upload. They then head to PAL Labs HQ to shut it down, but PAL manipulates them when revealing a video of Katie pretending to have faith in Rick just so he can hear what he wants to hear. Rick is heartbroken, and he and Linda are captured while PAL creates stronger and smarter robots, leaving Katie and Aaron alone since she also reprogrammed Eric and Deborahbot into obeying her.
After Katie realizes what she needs to do, she and Aaron use their dog Monchi to cause the robots to malfunction since their programming cannot recognize Monchi as a dog, pig, or loaf of bread. Rick and Linda free themselves and plan to upload a home movie of Katie's with Monchi in it to short-circuit the robots. It works when Eric and Deborahbot go back to their malfunctions and help the Mitchells. The family bands together to fight the stronger robot, and Katie defeats PAL by dropping her down until she falls into water and is shut down for good, freeing all the humans.
The Mitchells are seen as heroes, and Katie and Rick share one last heartfelt goodbye before she officially goes off to college. She later joins them on another road trip with Eric and Deborahbot.