Directed by New Line chair Bob Shaye and written by New Line head of production Toby Emmerich, "The Last Mimzy" only managed to round up a reasonable box office, likely because audiences were puzzled as to what a "Mimzy" was. However, moviegoers who missed out on the film during its theatrical run missed a flawed, but generally enjoyable - and certainly unique - little family feature.
The film focuses on Noah Wilder (Chris O’Neil) and younger sister Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), two kids who take a family trip to their vacation home near Seattle. While playing on the beach, they see a box floating in the water and pull it out of the tide. When they open it up, they find a strange array of objects, including a stuffed rabbit that talks to Emma.
Soon after they find the objects, they start to find that they have strange abilities. Noah can transport items through wormholes, and really, here's one of the movie's major issues: Charlie watches a soda can zap from one place to another and all he can say is, "Huh." If I just zapped a soda can from one place to the other (like from the kitchen to my desk so I didn't have to get up), I'd have a lot more to say then, "Huh." The kids just seem a little indifferent about suddenly having extraordinary abilities.
However, the adults in their lives - such as their parents (Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson) and teacher (Rainn Wilson, of "The Office") start to find out and become suspicious that something has changed about the two kids. Their father is convinced when Emma levitates a clump of sugar across the breakfast table. When one of the toys blacks out half the state, the Feds start to become involved.
"The Last Mimzy", which is based on the book, "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett, has a unique story about a crumbling future society that sends toys back in time in order to send a message about saving the future. However, the movie often seems like it's in such a rush - especially in the second half where the family is persued and questioned by the FBI - that the explanation of what's going on can seem somewhat limited and a tad confusing. Still, the movie at least tries, but I wonder if a little more running time would have allowed the story to develop and breathe. Shaye also pushes the sentimentality a bit much at times, especially towards the very end.
The acting is generally fine (Wilson steals the show), but again, the kids seem a bit absurdly indifferent at times. Visual effects in the smaller film are quite impressive, imaginative and enjoyable. Overall, this was an uneven family film (performances that - aside from Wilson's - were just okay, and some story points that could be clarified and developed on), but at least one that kept my interest, despite its faults.
VIDEO: "The Last Mimzy" is presented by New Line in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The DVD presentation was not without some minor concerns, but mostly looked quite good. Sharpness and detail were fine, if not outstanding, and the picture only showed some minor edge enhancement and artifacting in a few scenes. The print appeared crisp and clear, and colors looked bright and natural.
SOUND: "The Last Mimzy" is presented by New Line in Dolby Digital 5.1-EX. Boasting sound design work by Dane Davis ("The Matrix", and some of the sound effects here sound like cousins of some of the "Matrix" sound effects), the film's sound design is often moderately aggressive, with the surrounds being used frequently for effects and ambience during the supernatural scenes. Audio quality is excellent, with crisp effects, clear dialogue and instances of deep bass at times.
EXTRAS: Director Bob Shaye offers a fantastic commentary for the film - one of the best I've heard in quite some time - where he goes into just about every topic regarding the making of the picture. We hear from Shaye about audience reaction in test screenings, effects, working with the child actors, the development of the story and much more. Not a moment is spent here on praise or small talk, as Shaye gets right to the point and provides great insights throughout.
The extras section also offers 11 deleted scenes, an interactive game and an optional fact track for the feature. Aside from these features, we also get tons of short featurettes: “The Looking Glass: Emma and Alice”, “The Mandala: Imaginary Palace”, “DNA: The Human Blueprint”, “Nanotechnology: The Human Revolution”, “Sound Waves: Listening to the Universe”, and “Wormholes: Fantasy or Science”. The "All Access Pass" area offers: “Bob Shaye: Director Profile”, “Casting the Kids” , “Production Design and Concept Art” ,“The Last Mimzy: Adapting the Story” , “’Real Is Good’: The Visual Effects” , and “Editing and Music”. We also get a music video, as well.
Final Thoughts: "The Last Mimzy"'s story remains moderately interesting, despite the fact that aspects could use some clarification and development. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a lot of extra features. Rent it.
The Film B-