Leave this one for Last

The Last Mimzy

on March 23, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
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Based on a 1943 short story “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” by Lewis Padgett (a synonym for Henry Kuttner and his wife C.L. Moore), this family flick wraps the Tibetan philosophy of tulkus — children believed to be imbued with special knowledge and abilities — in a sci-fi script that incorporates both the time-travel hypotheses of string theory and the belief that traits like innocence are embedded in genetics. Such an ambitious undertaking benefits tremendously from stunning sound design by Dane A. Davis but is ultimately disappointed by a muddled message and odd direction by New Line topper Bob Shaye.

On a family vacation at the beach, Noah and his sister Emma (newcomers Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, cute as hell but unnatural) discover a mysterious box that contains magical objects, including a PSP-shaped crystal that, Noah later discovers, enables him to move objects through time and space; a seashell that shows him how to manipulate nature; and a stuffed rabbit named Mimzy who, Emma claims, “teaches me things.” As the children play with their new “toys,” they begin to demonstrate elevated intelligence levels, with Noah assembling a science project in which he instructs spiders to construct a web in the shape of a bridge.

It's in Noah and Emma's interaction with these objects that the film gets most creative, inventing otherworldly sounds that are not only imaginative in how they are designed but how they are used — first tuning out the world, then tuning into it at a microscopic level, where the unexpected vibrations of crabs, insects and the earth itself can be heard. Mimzy's “voice” can best be described as a high-pitched purr that by implication alone conveys these children are seeing and experiencing things that adults can't.

Unfortunately, the full resonance of Mimzy 's meaning is better conveyed in its press notes than in the film itself, and Shaye's camerawork — as in a scene in which Emma gets her palm read — too often causes one to wonder what we're aren't seeing the frame and why. Plot holes aren't egregious, even when attempts are made to fix them in edit or ADR, but unnecessarily raise eyebrows.

More disappointing are the lapses in logic. Getting involved when one of the toys from outerspace blacks out half of Seattle, the Department of Homeland Security discovers advanced technology from the future and then leaves it unattended? Then, when the feds witness what amounts to time travel, they just pack up and go home? And Pink Floyd's Roger Water contributes the second song he's ever recorded for a motion picture, and it's for this amateur-hour production? Distributor: New Line
Cast: Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wrynn
Director: Bob Shaye
Screenwriters: Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich
Producer: Michael Phillips
Genre: Family drama
Rating: PG for some thematic elements, mild peril and language
Running time: 96 min.
Release date: March 23, 2007

Tags: Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wrynn Director: Bob Shaye Screenwriters: Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich Producer, Michael Phillips Genre, Family drama, New Line
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