I never walk out of movies, but THE LAST MIMZY almost forced me to break my lifelong habit. I somehow managed to sit all the way through – an endurance test roughly equivalent to (but probably exceeding that of) Sysiphus. There is so much wrong with the film that it’s hard to squeeze it all into one review, but here it is…
This is one of those fantasy films that is supposed to be endearing and whimsical (or is that “mimzical”?) “for the whole family,” but the crude manipulation and mindless meanderings of the story make you wonder why any parent would inflict such foolishness on their family. There are lots of special effects, a few cute images, and some good actors on view, but they are nowhere near enough to alleviate the tedium of the film’s turgid pace – which, come to think of it, is the cinematic equivalent of a parent taking a child by the hand and tediously leading him every step of the way for fear that he would be lost or hopelessly thrown by any narrative leaps.
Noah and Emma Wilder (O’Neil and Wryn) are ordinary kids, whose father spends too much time at work. On vacation at the beach, they find some mysterious toys (including a cute stuffed rabbit whose buzzing vocalizations suggest speech). They toys inspire them to unexpected intellectual heights, which include accidentally creating a generator that blacks out electricity in a large part of the state. This draws the attention from the FBI, who arrest the entire family as terrorists. Scientific analysis of the rabbit suggests it is actually a form of artificial life, sent back in time from the future. Emma announces that the rabbit, named “Mimzy,” is dying and must return to its own time. They escape from FBI detention to retrieve some of their special “toys,” which open up a gateway to the future, through which Mimzy passes. Mimzy brings one of Emma’s tears (which she shed upon the doll) back to the future, which somehow saves the world.
The basic problem is that the screenplay cannot figure out an intelligent way to expand the source material (a short story) to feature length. If Mimzy is a form of artificial intelligence, it is not clear why Noah and Emma are needed to get it back to the future; in fact, it is no reason why Mimzy does not immeidately ask Emma for a tear, so that he can hurry up and head back home (what with the future of the world depending on his mission and all).
But were that to happen, the movie would be over in thirty minutes, so the film becomes a series of artificial delaying techniques, wasting time on peripheral characters like a school teacher and his wife (with an interest in mysticism) and irrelevent plot complications like the intrusion of the FBI. (One presumes this last element is a desperate attempt to emulate the formula of E.T., which also had some sinister government types show up and scare the kids for no good reason.)
Newline Cinema honcho Robert Shaye, stepping into the director’s chair for this outing, serves all of this up – every single scene and almost ever single shot – as if it were cinematic manna from heaven, worthy of lingering over every delicious detail. The result is that the lack of story development is compounded and magnified almost unto infinity, creating a mind-numbing vacuum that threatens to suck your brain right out of your head.
This really is the worst sort of formulaic filmmaking. THE LAST MIMZY is less a movie than a compound of elements tossed together, based on tired Hollywood storytelling. Need a sense of wonder? Show some characters staring blank-faced at special effects for a few minutes. Need a third-act plot complication? Drag in the FBI! Need to break the tedium of the uneventful story? Stage a jail break with the kids. Need some last minute suspense? Have the time vortex nearly suck the girl in along with Mimzy – and contrive it so that only her brother can save her (family values and all).
Shortly before the release of this movie, Shaye announced, during a public fued over profits from LORD OF THE RINGS, that he would never work with director Peter Jackson again. After this dismal effort, he might want to consider never working with himself again.
The closing credits feature a song by Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, entitled “Hello (I Love You).” Although a likable enough tune, the song sounds like a bit of a rehash. The title is taken from a Doors song, and Waters borrows lyrics from his own previous efforts “Is There Anybody in There?” and “Dark Side of the Moon.”
The Last Mimzy Rating
The film is a jumbled mess of different elements that don’t connect and never make any sense; plus, lots of irrelevent bits are thrown in to juice up the excitement level (like having the family arrested by the FBI in the last act so that the kids can stage a thrilling get-away in the final reel).
As if the boring story were not enough, the director treats the material as if he were dishing out a classic that the audience just can’t get enough of: he keeps serving more and more helpings, completely ignorant of the fact that it all tastes really bad and should be thrown down the garbage disposal.