Mark Reviews Movies


3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Bob Shaye

Cast: Chris O'Neil, Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Clarke Duncan

MPAA Rating:   (for some thematic elements, mild peril and language)

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 3/23/07

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Review by Mark Dujsik

For a movie aimed at kids, The Last Mimzy is really weird. How weird? Roger Waters does the film's original song, that's how weird. The film is a fun confection of science-fiction and Eastern religious concepts wrapped into a children's film that could just as easily pass as a stoner movie. Based on the short story "Mimsy Were the Borogroves" by Lewis Padgett (or Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore), which has a title culled from a line of Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" from his Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (phew), the film has a load of ideas that don't necessarily make a completely coherent whole but certainly do fit together in enough ways that something worthwhile can be gleaned from it. The script by Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich is entirely preoccupied by its oddities, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing. What the film lacks in development of its central familial structure and thematic clarity, it more than makes up for in imagination.

After venturing to the future where a class sits in a colorful, flower-filled field to listen to their teacher tell them a story with her mind about a scientist in their past who tried to save the world, we end up in to present-day Seattle. Two children Noah (Chris O'Neil) and Emma Wilder (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) arrive at school. They must pass through metal detectors, and Noah checks out the answers to an upcoming test that his friend texted to him on his cell. He freaked about using the answers, he tells his buddy on the bus, which is equipped with a television, as he plays his PSP. At home, their mother (Joely Richardson) breaks the bad news that their father (Timothy Hutton) is caught up at work and won't make it home for dinner and will be late for the start of Easter break at their vacation home. While there, the kids discover a strange, buzzing box on the beach, and inside, they find some strange toys, including a stuffed rabbit Emma hears it call itself Mimzy. Upon examination of the items, they begin to develop strange, preternatural abilities.

Not only does Emma hear the omniscient observations and foresights of Mimzy, she also begins to float in the air when she jumps. Noah begins to see the world in a three-dimensional grid and makes objects transport from one place to another with the use of his mind. He also learns that the use of sound waves can manipulate the movement of spiders, a discovery with which he wows everyone, including his science teacher Mr. White (Rainn Wilson), at the school science fair, having spiders create an incredibly strong, lightweight bridge that he theorizes could be used in space travel. There are also rocks that the two dub "spinners" because of their ability to spin in midair and create a strange field that atomizes object that enter it. Yes, it's all strange, fantastical stuff, but what does it all mean? Well, it all goes back to that scientist, who sent these things back in time to save humanity. From what? Well, Mr. White tells the class about messing with DNA, and how pollution can have genetic and cultural ramifications. That seems to be the problem, but it really makes no matter, since even when the kids discover that they need to help the people of the future, they have no idea what to do.

The science teacher also brings the Wilder family's attention to some drawings Noah has done, perfectly replicating the mandalas (diagrams of the cosmos) of Dharmic religions. Mr. White has had dreams about the shapes, and his "fiancée" Naomi (Kathryn Hahn) is convinced the kids are special and destined for greatness. It sure seems that way, since Mimzy warns Emma that the world will end unless she stops it. Underneath all of this is the way Noah and Emma start to have a closer bond as brother and sister, and how in the process of saving the future, their parents begin to understand them less and less. There's no focus on it. It's there, though, just in the same way that it seems possible that technology is the cause of (and, ironically, the solution to (look for a funny piece of product placement)) the problems of the future, where, it's stated late in the film, those inhabiting the world have lost their humanity. Then the head of Homeland Security (Michael Clarke Duncan) shows up at their house, confiscating the toys and holding the family for questioning, and the film continues to grow stranger and stranger until it seems to be losing its bearings.

It doesn't, though, because it never really had them in the first place. That's something I sort of admire about The Last Mimzy. It tries to avoid expectation while still playing directly to them. The film is full of contradictions like that in its execution, and it makes for a somewhat exciting, intriguing, and completely bizarre experience.

Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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