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REEL CRITICS:'Mimzy' is a palatable fantasy

March 31, 2007

"The Last Mimzy" is an interesting and unusual family movie that is fun to watch but ultimately leaves no lasting impression. It's too bad because the story has great potential but falls short of groundbreaking status. If the word mimzy strikes a chord of recognition, you probably read Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" as a child. And the allusion is intended.

Mimzy is the name of a stuffed bunny (think the White Rabbit) that the little girl in the film finds on the beaches of Whidbey Island. With Mimzy, she can see through a futuristic looking glass and by speaking with the bunny she gains knowledge and wisdom.

Emma and her brother, Noah, find more than the bunny on the beach. They find a box filled with toys such as strange stones, shells and a crystal rectangle that somehow aid the children in seeing deeper into the mysterious interconnection of all life. Some say it's sappy, but I actually liked how the filmmaker conveys this concept throughout the movie.


Director Robert Shaye employs a combination of scientific principles (albeit shaky ones), spiritual intuitiveness and historical mysticism. It's vibrant and exhilarating and great for children to be exposed to. The major problem is that all aspects are just glossed over, perhaps to keep it light and humorous, which it is at times, perhaps to keep it an action/suspense movie, which it is definitely successful at, or perhaps to make it palatable to children, which my kids tell me it is.

Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn do an excellent job portraying Noah and Emma. They look and act like real kids. The toys they find have the ability to expand their minds and they move into that intellectual realm surprisingly smoothly.

The parents, played adequately by Joely Richardson and Timothy Hutton, move from concerned to frantic as they notice the change in their children. They enlist the help of Noah's science teacher (Rainn Wilson, "The Office") and his kooky but sensitive girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn).

In the short time we get to know them, Larry and Naomi's characters evoke a certain humor and depth. They don't pretend to have more than a superficial understanding of mysticism, particularly Tibetan mandalas. But they have an intense enthusiasm about Larry's dreams and a trust in the voice of the universe speaking to them. They believe these children are their destiny.

Of course the big bad government agency has to be involved.

When the children combine the toys in a certain way, they create a generator that blacks out much of the Seattle area. In a scene that might be too scary for little ones, Homeland Security tracks them down and carts them off to a secret location. This is the start of the big escape and finale.

While I found the head of Homeland Security (Michael Clarke Duncan) ridiculous, my 9-year-old loved him, with his deep comforting voice and huge pecs.

Near the end, he says the cheesiest line I've ever heard in a movie, but I'll let you enjoy that on your own.

The moral of the film — that we need to care for the earth and each other to survive — is laid down with a heavy hand. But gratefully, in the end, the view of the future, from whence Mimzy came, is happy and optimistic.

  • LISA DUPUY of La Crescenta spent years studying New Age mysticism but also subscribed to the Skeptics Society magazine.

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