One of the main things that attracted Kurt Albrecht to be a producer on “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” when Mike Rianda brought it to Sony in 2015 was the fact that it was so filmmaker driven. “We were coming up with ideas and he was on a road trip and he came up with, ‘One of the things I love is my crazy family and I love killer robots,’” Albrecht tells Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Film Animation panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). That crazy idea led to his pitch and then developing the story with co-writer and co-director Jeff Rowe. “There’s been many versions of it but what you saw was really Mike just choosing things he loved and working with those ideas.”
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” which is currently streaming on Netflix, centers on Katie (Abbi Jacobson), a young aspiring filmmaker whose family includes her father Rick (Danny McBride), mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), younger brother Aaron (Rianda) and their pug Monchi. While her family is on a road trip to get her to college in California, an AI technology named PAL (Olivia Colman) begins enacting a plan to capture all humans and shoot them into space. It then falls on the Mitchell family to help save humanity from being overrun by technology.
Albrecht is very frank about discussing how they came to cast Colman as the voice of the evil AI interface. “How can you go wrong with Olivia Colman? We wanted someone in that role who could be menacing, a biddie but also have heartwarming moments with her creator.” Colman had just won her Oscar for “The Favourite” when she signed on but they were still unprepared for what she would bring to the character. “When we got into the records, her willingness to have fun with the character and give us more than we ever expected was amazing. The scene where she’s flipping around and just screaming. I mean, come on, right?”
Albrecht also understands that the real star of the movie is Monchi the pug, which was also inspired by aspects of Rianda’s family. “There was a Monchi in Mike’s family. I think it was his aunt’s dog and they’ve had pugs in his family for a long time.” The love for Monchi was something that became apparent very quickly for Albrecht and the team behind the movie. “Before we were on lockdown, we actually had a couple of test screenings with audiences and he tested through the roof every time.”
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