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The Last Mimzy
(2007)

A clever little kids’ science fiction film that is far superior to most, ostensibly more adult, fare. Based on the 1940s short story Mimsy Were the Borogroves, the screenplay credits four writers, three of whom have shown a yen for more spiritual-leaning (I hesitate to say New Age-y, but it’s probably fair and I admit that I particularly enjoyed the conceit of weaving Eastern mysticism with science fiction elements) storytelling. The writers have ensured that the tale includes a strongly environmentalist backbone; if this occasionally feels a little heavy-handed, it is basically the whole point of the movie.

Bruce Joel Rubin worked on Brainstorm, Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder, while James V Hart adapted Contact. Also credited is Toby Emmerich, generally known as a producer, who worked on Frequency. The director, Bob Shaye, has only one previous credited feature, having mainly contented himself producing Freddy Krueger movies; presumably this was something of a passion project. His lack of experience shows at times, but the strength of the story ultimately wins out.

Centring on a two children and the strange box they discover (we learn in the prologue that this has been sent from the future, so at least there aren’t any Damon Lindelof-esque disappointments in store), the abilities that they develop soon attract the attention of their parents, teacher and, eventually, the authorities. To an extent it recalls family-focussed Spielberg fare from the ‘80s, as the not unsympathetic adults react fearfully (or attempt to understand, in the case of the teacher and his girlfriend) events the children have no problem accepting (both ET and Poltergeist come to mind, even War Games). There’s also a touch of Donnie Darko in the premise (and the presence of a bunny). The (CGI) spectacle is sparing and subordinate to character and story; there is excellent sound design also, used to convey the heightened language and awareness that the kids experience.

The key element of resolution could perhaps be dismissed as rather trite, but it gets a pass due to internally consistency and connecting into the story's genuine, rather than glib, emotional core (that said, they do take some of the future utopia imagery a bit far).

The performances from the child actors are unfortunately rather variable, but Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson as their parents help to shepherd them through the rough patches. 

****

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