Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Last Mimzy

Last week I went to see The Last Mimzy in the midst of a flurry of movie-going that included laying witness to a world full of mutants ~ amphibian, humanoid, and Wahlbergian, and so I’m sorry to say Mimzy got lost along the way. To be honest, I also faced a rather grim week in an adventure not of my choosing. Ugh. I’ve spent a few days in the hospital recovering from a severe case of salmonella. That’s right. Salmonella. You know how when you get really sick and tell your friends “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!” Well, I can tell you that salmonella is exactly the type of illness you’d want to wish on someone you can’t stand. Trust me. It is painful, disgusting, and… well, let’s just say I think for the rest of my life I will wince when I see a can of soda with the name Squirt.

In this entire swirl of stomach cramps and stampedes to the toilet bowl I seem to have forgotten a lot of the finer points of a delicate flower like
The Last Mimzy, so I revisited it this afternoon and was pleased I did. It really is a sweet little movie, sort of the baby chick version of ET. By that I mean it is a film that is going to do its best with the younger crowd, especially girls who will identify with main character Emma, and it is going to touch your heart if you let it in. Granted, Emma shares her story with her older ten-year old brother Noah, but this is a story that is told at a deliberate pace, as a story would be read or told, rather than heightened with a lot of extraneous special effects, quick cut camera moves, overwrought orchestrations, and the type of things “boys” movies tend to rely on. This is no Star Wars though it does have an overarching sci-fi theme and CGI effects when they are necessary to the plot.

The tale takes place in Seattle where the Wilder family lives a typical upper middle class existence. Dad David (Timothy Hutton; The Good Shepherd) is an overworked executive making lots of money but spending not nearly enough time with his family. Jo (Joely Richardson; tv's "Nip/Tuck") is a realistic stay-at-home Mom who loves her children through-and-through, but she also recognizes them for what they are ~ average kids, so she does not pressure them to excel as some parents might. She’s happy with who they are just as they are. As a matter of fact her biggest regret is that they are growing up too quickly and leaving their “babyhood” behind. As for the children, they are pretty much like any other. Noah (debuting Chris O’Neil) loves video games and younger sister Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn; Hulk) enjoys her tea parties and stuffed animals. They are easy to identify with and like, even for old fogies in the audience like me.

It is Easter Week break from school and the family is on its annual trek to their summer home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound when Emma spies a box in the surf and asks Noah to retrieve it. Inside, they find a series of objects, including a stuffed bunny Emma tells everyone is named Mimzy. Mimzy, it seems, “talks” to the girl through a series of squeaks and buzzes, but none are coherent to the audience or audible to the other characters. The other objects in the box also seem lost on the adults.
What the children see and what the adults see are two completely different things. One thing the adults do notice, however, is that in the days and weeks that follow for no apparent reason both Noah and Emma appear to be developing incredible new talents and expanded intelligence beyond their years.

Noah’s science teacher, Larry White (Rainn Wilson; tv’s “The Office”) and his fiancée, Naomi Schwartz (delightful scene stealer Kathryn Hahn; tv’s “Crossing Jordan”) are practitioners of Eastern philosophy and religion, and they are both piqued by finding Noah’s drawings of mandalas which mirror 1000 year old Tibetan paintings about bridges between the past and the future. Considering Noah’s previous lack of academic excellence in his class Mr. White can’t help but be curious how a lad so disinterested in school could be hooked into an obscure mystical study such as this.

Soon, all parties are tied together in a mystery worthy of Scooby Doo himself. What is going on? And what does Mimzy want? Where does she come from for that matter? And how do Larry’s dreams of mandalas in the sky that resemble Noah’s drawings which also look like copies of historical paintings make sense in any context to all of this? Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough confusion, there is the question of Alice. That would be the Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame, who Emma finds in a photo with Lewis Carroll from more than a century ago carrying Mimzy under her arm.

So much fantastic curiosity mounts in the first hour of the film that the intrusion halfway through by the jolting reality of a home invasion by Homeland Security and the heavy-handed thump of the “Patriot Act” being dumped like a steaming pile of poo in the middle of a scene seems unnecessarily political and over-reaching in a movie that is otherwise aiming to please the pre-teen crowd as much as anybody. This one lapse is forgivable overall, but it is a disappointment regardless of one’s “red” or ‘blue” affiliations. It just detracts from the larger story and adds nothing to the tale except to give Michael Clarke Duncan (School for Scoundrels) a brief role as the Commander heading up the team that temporarily terrorizes the Wilders.

By the end of the movie the answers to the mystery are answered, if somewhat vaguely, and it may require a parent to help explain to younger viewers what has happened. There’s definitely a trick to the whole movie and the twist is in the single tear shed by Emma towards the end of the film. I didn’t get that the first time I saw it, so I am “spoiling” that much for you in case you don’t get it either. It is actually pretty clever, but if you are sitting next to your own Emma-sized youngster I can’t imagine she is going to have any idea what is going on. Maybe she (or he) doesn’t need to as long as she’s happy with how things wind up for Mimzy herself.

As for me, I wouldn’t mind having a Mimzy. She is one cute bunny, a whole lot sweeter in temperament than the ones in Donnie Darko or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’d just make sure to go for the extended warranty because I think you’d almost have to have one with a bunny as busy as Mimzy. She makes the Energizer Bunny look like a wussy by comparison.

No comments: