The Last Mimzy Review
By Shawn McKenzie 04/11/2007
As told to a futuristic class by the teacher (Irene Snow) in a brightly lit meadow, we are introduced to Noah Wilder (Chris O’Neil)…a 10-year-old present-day boy who is smart, but his grades at his Seattle school don’t reflect this fact…and his 5-year-old sister Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), who is actually gifted. Their father, David (Timothy Hutton), works all the time, and he doesn’t get much of a chance to spend time with his kids or their mother Jo (Joely Richardson.) The kids and their mother go to their vacation beach house on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, where the kids find a weird Hellraiser-like box (minus the violent demonic stuff) on the beach containing a seashell, some stones, a glowing green tablet, an odd slug-looking thing, and a stuffed bunny rabbit. Emma of course is enamored by the doll, which she names “Mimzy” because the doll told her that it was his name (through a series of strange gurgle noises.) The kids don’t know that the box and its items were actually sent from the future by a scientist (Tom Heaton) who wants to save the future of humankind from their messed-up world. As they play with the cool new toys, they both begin to develop powers, including rapid intelligence and telekinesis. Emma learns how to make the stones spin into a force field, and Noah learns how to communicate with spiders, which he uses to win the science fair. Noah’s science teacher Larry White (Rainn Wilson) and his new-age fiancée, Naomi Schwartz (Kathryn Hahn) begin to notice their powers, and they want to study them to find out the extent of their new powers. Their intentions are honorable, but when Noah accidentally causes a huge blackout across half the state with one of the toys, it alerts the attention of Homeland Security regional director Nathanial Broadman (Michael Clarke Duncan), who thinks that the kids are behind a terrorist plot. The kids begin to realize that the toys are part of a bigger purpose, and they work together to figure out what that purpose is.
Many kid-friendly movies talk down to kids by assuming that they wouldn’t be able to understand a complex plot. The Last Mimzy is a sci-fi tale that doesn’t do this…and I wish more movies would follow suit.
New Line co-founder and co-CEO Robert “Bob” Shaye directed this adaptation of Lewis Padgett’s (the pseudonym of husband and wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) 1943 science fiction short story Mimsy were the Borogoves. Aside from being set in the present as opposed to the book’s ‘40s setting, I’ve heard that the story in the movie is faithful to the book.
Most other critics have been comparing the movie to 1982’s E.T., but I personally would compare it to another Steven Spielberg classic, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If you think about it…Richard Dreyfuss’s character Roy is affected by aliens who send him messages…just like the kids in Mimzy. E.T. was a cute alien, but he was a living being as opposed to the inanimate stuffed bunny Mimzy. I don’t know…I guess they are both similar, but I prefer the Encounters comparison.
The kids, Wilson, and Hahn are the main reasons to see the movie (aside from the interesting plot.) O’Neil and Wryn are good kid actors, and Wryn is especially adorable. O’Neil was born in Boulder, CO, but he currently lives in Denver (I love to champion any actor hailing from my home state.) This is his first acting experience whatsoever, which is impressive. It would be cool if he did a film with another local Denver favorite, AnnaSophia Robb. Mimzy is Wryn’s first lead role, but she has had bit parts in other movies and TV shows. I’m sure her acting stock will rise soon. Wilson is the memorable neurotic Dwight Schrute on NBC’s “The Office.” Aside from the Emmy-nominated Steve Carell and the sexy Jenna Fischer, Wilson is a highlight of that show. I think that he should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor Emmy nomination by now. In this movie he is comic relief, but his character is still intelligent. Hahn’s quirky character fits well with Wilson’s character. I know that she is on NBC’s “Crossing Jordan,” but since I hate that show, I never got a chance to see how good she is. I will notice her now. The parents, played by Richardson and Hutton, are okay, but they aren’t as memorable as the others highlighted above. The same goes for Duncan, who seems like he doesn’t have much of a part, even though his character is important.
The Last Mimzy is only Shaye’s second full-length directorial effort. The first one was the hilarious nostalgic 1990 comedy Book of Love. I realize that Shaye is busy running New Line, but I hope that it won’t take another 17 years to make his next film. Kids already love him for bringing us the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he could give them another movie to challenge their minds again. Throw in some cool special effects and a script that doesn’t talk down to kids, and Shaye may have a hit.
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