I genuinely feel like there is a good, entertaining movie hidden inside of “Mitchell” somewhere. The idea of an eccentric, schlubby cop with curious and unclear ethical boundaries solving a major crime sounds pretty great to me. Unfortunately, “Mitchell” doesn’t live up to its potential, which is a real shame.
In the hilarious MST3K riff of “Mitchell”, Joel and the bots have a lot of fun poking at the acting and physique of star Joe Don Baker. For the record, I didn’t think he was all that bad in this movie. I personally feel like he did the best he could with the writing, but it just wasn’t a good enough foundation for the movie. None of the banter works, particularly the brief interaction between Joe Don and a young child which plays out in an incredibly grating fashion. Also, there is a serious problem with the tone of the film: it seems like it wants to be an action movie and a comedy movie, but somehow does neither well enough to be an action-comedy. I’m still not sure how the audience is supposed to feel in the infamous sex scene, which features the song “My My My My Mitchell”: a tune as silly as it is catchy.
I think that the MST3K treatment of “Mitchell”, while perhaps unfair at times, is one of their best. It also holds a important place in the series, as it is the last episode to star creator Joel Hodgson. I recommend the episode highly, though I can’t necessarily say the same for the film on its own. The pacing and editing are almost as bad as the writing, which makes it pretty dull to sit through. Even the ending is anticlimactic, which means there isn’t really any payoff to the wait. There are a few clips, like the sex scene, that are absolutely worth catching, but not much else.
“Mitchell” has a pretty firm placement in the IMDb Bottom 100, though not as highly as another Joe Don Baker movie: “Final Justice”. Truthfully, it is hard for me to pick between the two of them. “Final Justice” is probably objectively worse, but “Mitchell” irks me in a unique way in how it squanders what I see as a promising premise. Then again, I might be biased: some of my friends have claimed that my destiny is to successfully remake “Mitchell” into an awesome movie. Maybe I will get to that some day.