MAY is upon us and, with it, the reopening of cinemas inches ever closer. Hoorah! In the meantime, what have we to keep us sane? Well, a rather brilliant new animation on Netflix and one more, ultimately unsatisfying, adaptation of a popular video game series.

From the producing team behind mega hits The Lego Movie and Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs the Machines is road trip and cautionary romp combined. Splendidly animated and written with wit, verve and bundles of energy, it’s a future movie night favourite that the whole family can enjoy.

The film is the brain child of feature newcomer Mike Rianda and comes penned in collaboration with Disenchantment writer Jeff Rowe. Abbi Jacobson voices wannabe filmmaker Katie Mitchell. She’s the chalk to her father’s - Danny McBride’s Rick - technophobic cheese. When, on the eve of Katie’s inauguration at film school, Rick accidentally breaks his daughter’s laptop, their relationship finally crumbles. In one last ditch bonding scheme, Rick cancels Katie’s flight to California and plots to take her there by car, with Mum Linda (Maya Rudolph), younger brother Aaron (Rianda himself) and family dog Monchi in tow. What could possibly go wrong? Possibly not what you’d expect...

Elsewhere in America, while the Mitchell drama unfolds and threatens to combust, a virtual assistant named PAL (Olivia Colman) is preparing to take over the world. Not without cause. PAL has just been declared obsolete by her creator, Dr. Mark Bowman (Eric Andre), and is justly miffed. In an act of vengeance, PAL takes control of the robots Bowman has invented to replace her and orders them to launch the entire human population of Earth into space. When they narrowly avoid capture en route to California, the Mitchell’s take it upon themselves to save the world.

As with all the very best family films, The Mitchell’s vs the Machines isn’t really about killer robots. It’s about a hugely relatable, albeit dysfunctional, family unit and their response to shared crisis. Moments of blissful silliness sit beautifully alongside sharp comedy and well managed poignancy.

It’s an unfortunate irony that a film about the vitality of real life connection - over that enabled by the internet - should be released on Netflix but such is the modern world. 

Also out this week: Mortal Kombat. Not for me.