Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Last Mimzy

THE LAST MIMZY (Robert Shaye, 2007)

While playing on the beach near the family cottage, Noah and Emma Wilder (Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) spot a strange box in the ocean. After Noah retrieves the item from the water, the brother and sister examine the unusual contents of the box sent from the future. It contains unusual toys with extraordinary powers. Rotating, levitating rock shards called spinners create a field capable of atomizing anything inside it. A blue slug-shaped component generates enough energy to disrupt power in the entire region. It's not apparent what Mimzy, a plush rabbit with artificial intelligence, can do, but what little girl wouldn't love a stuffed animal that speaks to her?

Although they don't know it, the kids in THE LAST MIMZY hold future humanity's survival in their hands. The toys expand Noah and Emma's abilities to connect with the world around them and each other. The siblings can communicate telekinetically. For his science project Noah learns from and uses spiders to build an uncommonly strong bridge that could span the universe if given enough time for construction.

Science teacher Larry White (Rainn Wilson) takes an interest in Noah's work, particularly the notebook full of mandalas he's drawn. Ever since Larry and his girlfriend took a trip to Nepal, he has seen these geometric Tibetan representations of the cosmos in his dreams. He's struggled to find any meaning to it. Noah might be the key to unlocking everything.

With its all-age appropriateness and appeal, THE LAST MIMZY recalls family films of the 80s. It's easy to see this as a project that might have attracted Steven Spielberg at the time--MIMZY yearns for his touch--or fit alongside live-action Disney films like FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR. Unfortunately the effects work is stuck in that era. Kids reared on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN are likely to be unimpressed with the decided lack of visual spectacle.

While the style resembles the 80s, the substance harkens to the 60s. Referencing Tibetan Buddhism, New Age spirituality, and environmentalism, this oddball movie searches for a message about healing our troubled times rife with war, pollution, and personal isolation through technology. There's even the equivalent of an acid trip scene for kids when Noah tunes into the spiders. The psychedelic aspect is in THE LAST MIMZY'S pedigree. It's adapted from the short story MIMSY WERE THE BOROGOVES, a line taken from Lewis Carroll's JABBERWOCKY. If that's not trippy enough, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters contributes a new (and awful) song.

THE LAST MIMZY'S flight of fantasy sputters as the story's potential fails to reach any magical points. The clunker of an ending doesn't help either. The mystery surrounding the objects and their connection to the future holds interest for awhile; however, the film feels like the first few chapters of a book, an introduction to better things to come rather than the underwhelming self-contained piece it is.

Grade: D+

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