The Last Mimzy: Adequate Adaptation Overcomes Awkward Tendencies!

The Last Mimzy - Onesheet #2The Last Mimzy is the movie adaptation of the classic Lewis Padgett [Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore] science fiction short story, Mimzy Were The Borogroves – a tale about how some unusual toys turned a couple of normal kids into uber-geniuses. Despite awkward direction, a spoon-feeding framing sequence, and a silly Homeland Security arc, the film version manages to be entertaining and thought provoking. 

The Last Mimzy - Looking for More Spinners

The Last Mimzy opens with a group of children being told a story – and segues into the present, where the Wilder family is trying to get it together to go to their beach house for Easter vacation. Despite his best intentions, David [Timothy Hutton] is required to troubleshoot some problems at work, leaving his wife Jo [Joely Richardson], son Noah [Chris O’Neil] and daughter Emma [Rhiannon Leigh Wryn] to head off without him.

By the time he joins them a day later, the children have found a peculiar box that has, apparently washed up onto the beach. Besides a number of what look like vaguely conical rocks and a hunk of stone about the size of a chocolate bar, Emma finds a toy rabbit – that she calls Mimzy because it has told her that’s its name.

By the time the Wilders return home a week later, the children have begun to change. Noah wins his school’s science fair with a truly ingenious project that goes far beyond what his C- grades would have indicated. Both Noah and Emma seem to know things before they happen, and Noah has taken to drawing complex pieces that are actually classical mandalas that are centuries of years old – something that draws the attention of science teacher [Rainn Wilson] even above and beyond his newfound scientific expertise.

The Last Mimzy - Displacement

When the pair experiment with the rectangular toy, they accidentally blackout half the city of Seattle, which brings Homeland Security into the picture. The result is a muddled arrest and series of interrogations that are meant to give the film immediacy but come off, mostly, as padding. The abrupt shift in directing style from the first part of the movies to the semi-thriller style of the rest of the film is jarring and, again, awkward [but what can you do when the director is New Line CEO Robert Shaye?]…

In the end, winning performances from everyone [including Homeland Security regional boss Nathaniel Broadman, played by Michael Duncan Clarke] go a long way to overcoming the deficiencies of the script – and the arcs that deal with the kids, their toys, their parents and the science teacher are handled in a way that might remind of a certain Steven Spielberg film from the eighties. Even the special effects have an odd kind of charm.

Of course, the film would’ve been far better if the writer and director had allowed us to figure out why the toys appeared – instead of spoon-feeding us an explanation, but then – that’s Hollyweird. Even so, The Last Mimzy has more pluses than minuses – and it’s fun for the whole family.

Grade: B-

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