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The Last Mimzy

Whatever your expectations may be—Is it about benevolent aliens from the future? Supernatural phenomena?—The Last Mimzy may ultimately disappoint you with its cluttered derivativeness.


Based on a 1943 short story "Mimsy Were the Borogroves" by Henry Kuttner and his wife C.L. Moore (who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett), The Last Mimzy makes reference to Lewis Carroll's famous nonsensical poem "Jabberwocky" which appeared in his novel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Kuttner and Moore believed the poem may have actually been a communication with hidden meaning from the future, so the movie expands on this idea. We meet 10-year-old Noah Wilder (Chris O'Neil) and his younger sister, Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), who find a mysterious box on the beach that contains some strange devices they think are toys, including a beat-up stuffed toy rabbit who Emma calls Mimzy. As Noah and Emma start exhibiting paranormal behavior--including blacking out their city for a few minutes—their parents (Joely Richardson and Timothy Hutton) grow more concerned, especially when Mimzy turns out to be more than just a toy, armed with a serious warning about mankind's future. Slapping on an environmental message IS the latest craze, after all.


Part of Mimzy's problem unfortunately stems from the stiff performances, especially from the young actors. We've become accustomed to super-kids who can genuinely act their way out of a paper bag. But newbies O'Neil and Wryn really don't have those innate acting skills, even if they exhibit moments of valid emotions. Their cutesy affectations could be as much director Robert Shaye's fault as anything else, since kids need guidance—but more on that later. As for the adults, Richardson and Hutton are also fairly nondescript as the hapless parents, while Michael Clarke Duncan looks utterly lost as the big, bad government guy who just wants to get to the bottom of what he perceives as a possible terrorist threat. The only actors who look like they are having any fun are Rainn Wilson (The Office), as Noah's quirky science teacher, and Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan), as Larry's New-Age-y fiancé who is able to shed some light on what's happening to the kids. These two should definitely play more on-screen couples.


As Alice in Through the Looking Glass puts it, ''Somehow ['Jabberwocky'] seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!'' Apparently neither does director Robert Shaye. You see, his job up to this point has been running New Line Cinema as its co-founder. Now, while I've always suspected studio heads are all frustrated filmmakers, shelling out the big bucks does not a director make. Shaye even enlisted New Line-contracted executive producer Toby Emmerich to co-write the script with Bruce Joel Rubin, who has really never risen above his claim-to-fame, Ghost. Obviously, The Last Mimzy is a New Line frat party but certainly these guys are not the strongest of talents, either with the camera or the pen. They take what seems to be a fairly compelling premise and simply turn into Hollywood schlock, stealing elements from several other films of Mimzy's Spielberg-ian/Carl Sagan-ian ilk, including A.I., E.T., and, yes, Contact. Too bad.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.