Saturday, 4 August 2007
THE LAST MIMZY
The Last Mimzy (2007) dir. Robert Shaye
Starring: Chris O’Neill, Rhiannon Lynn Wryn, Rainn Wilson, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton
What is the Last Mimzy you ask? What the hell kind of title is that you ask? It’s a surprisingly good kids flick released by New Line earlier this year that harkens back to the ET-era of empowered kids films from the 80’s. The marketing of the film attempts to piggyback on the Narnia, LOTR, Potter neo-fantasy genre, but it's not as big as those and part of the joy of the film comes from its small scale intimacy.
The Wilders are your average WASPy middle class family. Jo (Joely Richardson) is the hardworking homemaker who cares for her kids deeply, David (Timothy Hutton) is your typical overworked Benz-driving businessman who rarely has enough time for his kids, and Noah (Chris O’Neill) and Emma are your average 6 and 8 year olds. But when a mysterious black box floats onto the shore near their Seattle weekend cottage their lives get turned upside down. Noah and Emma discover a series of objects in the box each with magical properties – spinning rocks, crystals, sea shells, and a doll rabbit. As we learn in the pre-credit sequence, the rabbit is the most important which was sent to Earth from sometime in the future to help save the planet.
It starts out as a ‘kids vs. adults’ adventure, as Noah and Emma hide their new gifts from the parents. But we are saved the frustrating narrative device of the adults not believing the kids, with the introduction of Larry (Rainn Wilson - aka Dwight from “The Office”), Noah’s science teacher who has a connection to the mystical events. With the help of his flakey astrologist girlfriend, Larry uncovers the historical significance of the objects. Rainn Wilson brings his own brand of quirky fresh humour and actually made me laugh on several occasions.
We learn these objects were sent back to many different time periods, in addition to Noah and Emma’s. Larry finds evidence of these objects in ancient texts, history books and other examples of mysticism. This broadens the scope of the film for those high-concept-sci-fi-loving viewers (like me). But as thought-provoking as it is, it also conveniently plugs a few plot holes as well.
The film is essentially a clone of E.T. The kids discover secret powers of the objects, which alert the black-suited authorities. Like E.T, the doll’s powers are dying and so the kids have to find the secret to puzzle to ‘phone home’, which in this case means opening up the worm hole which will send the doll back to its world.
The purpose of the Rabbit and why it needs to go back (or forward) in time is kept vague throughout the whole film. Why send it back in time only to send it forward again? What gives? There is an expository explanation which is hastily told to us in voiceover at the end. It’s a little lazy and convenient in storytelling purposes. But it does make sense, if not wildly implausible and over ambitious. Kids don’t really need the explanation, it’s just for the adults.
One of the interesting aspects of the film is the director Robert Shaye – a mega-player in Hollywood, who founded New Line. It’s only his second feature film and first since 1990’s “Book of Love”. The move from the office to the director’s chair is successful, as he keeps the story moving forward, the pace up, and the running time down. The kids are competent and he doesn’t make them stretch too far beyond their abilities as actors. The visual design of the film is original and uses special effects sparingly. He’s smart enough to know he’s not competing with Potter or Narnia and doesn’t overindulge himself.
If you have kids and are sick of watching Harry Potter for the 20th time, “The Last Mimzy” will certainly be enjoyed by your kids and will freshen up your eyes and ears again as well. Enjoy.
Buy it here: The Last Mimzy (Widescreen Infinifilm Edition)