The Last Mimzy may fail to qualify as the best family adventure of the year, but the film’s dazzling magic and striking acting performances occasionally override its flaws and give way to a fast pace and continuous action. This latest entry in the fantasy genre is directed by Bob Shaye, founder and co-CEO of New Line Cinema, and the man who green-lit the Lord of the Rings movies. Generally I would say that the idea of a big studio executive stepping behind the camera can be alarming, but in the case of The Last Mimzy, Shaye does a remarkable job.
Based on the short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym for Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore), The Last Mimzy follows the extraordinary adventure of Noah and Emma Wilder (Chris O’Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), two siblings who have been called upon by future scientists to help prevent the deterioration of human virtues. While spending their Easter break at their parents’ beach house, Noah and Emma stumble across a mysterious box that contains a stuffed rabbit (that’s Mimzy) and a couple of luminous rocks. Next thing we know these items help them develop some unique talents: Noah acquires the power of telekinesis, while his sister, by spinning the rocks, creates magical force fields.
Besides its underlying message that today’s world is much too preoccupied with technology, the film succeeds in emphasizing the importance of stable family relationships. This becomes particularly evident in the way the Wilders handle the government’s sudden interest in their children’s inexplicable gift. After Noah uses some of the bizarre objects to assemble a generator that blacks out the whole city, the FBI (lead by Michael Clark Duncan) hunts them down as potential terrorists. The ridiculousness of some of these scenes notwithstanding, as a family, the Wilders stick together no matter how big the threat.
Additionally, as in the recent family fable Bridge to Terabithia, The Last Mimzy perfectly utilizes the children’s rapport with one another to urge young spectators never to abandon their imagination. As siblings, newcomers Chris O’Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn both deliver believable performances many of us with a brother or sister can perfectly relate to. Shaye’s directing be praised, because he manages to keep the main focus on the two kids throughout the whole movie without ever shifting the importance of the story to other, less intriguing characters.
Despite its generally entertaining narrative, however, the movie is marred by several plot holes. The screenplay by Toby Emmerich and Bruce Joel Rubin leaves many questions unanswered, especially in connection with Mimzy and the purpose of some of the mysterious devices. Worse yet, the film’s messages are hindered by an extremely annoying emphasis on product placement. If you think Michael Bay’s The Island was already overstuffed with well-known brand names, this one’s really pushing it.
With The Last Mimzy, Bob Shaye has crafted an imaginative and entertaining adventure with just enough spice to amuse audiences who are willing to sit back and enjoy the magic without asking too many questions.
The Last Mimzy was released as an Infinifilm edition, which is usually indicative of a disc rich in interactive and voluminous bonus material. Of course, with Bob Shaye as director of the movie and head of New Line Cinema, it’s pretty obvious that he tried everything in his power to come out with an impressive DVD. Mission completed!
The special features section on the disc is divided in two categories, each comprising about half a dozen featurettes and other interesting extras. The “Beyond the Movie” section explores many scientific aspects of the movie, and features a bunch of documentaries that are especially enlightening for younger viewers. The most impressive one is a six-minute piece called “Sound Waves: Listening to the Universe.” Sound designer Dane Davis talks about the many layers of sound in The Last Mimzy, and demonstrates how he assembled different sound bites and how he fitted them into the final cut. The section also includes a “Fact Track” feature, which you can activate during the movie as to learn more about the history of The Last Mimzy.
Probably the most exciting category, the “All Access Pass” digs really deep into the production of the film and offers an honest and informative behind-the-scenes look at the script, casting, concept art and editing. Here, the best piece is undoubtedly the 13-minute documentary “Editing and Music,” which features compelling interviews with editor Alan Heim and composer Howard Shore. Whereas Heim compares early edits with final edits and discusses early cuts of the film and the difficulty of assembling select scenes, Shore explains how the music propels the movie forward. Another excellent clip offers spellbinding casting footage and adorable, not-to-miss interviews with actors Chris O’Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn.
The Last Mimzy DVD also includes 11 boring deleted scenes with optional commentary by Bob Shaye, a mediocre music video by Roger Waters and three interactive games that only the youngest spectators may appreciate. More interesting on the other hand is the feature-length filmmaker commentary by Bob Shaye. He’s utterly energetic from the beginning to the end and tries to cover many aspects about the movie in the most possible detail. As a fluent speaker, Shaye does a wonderful job at commenting on dialogues, visuals, music, locations and actors. He’s truly sharing his passion for this movie with the audience, which makes this feature one not to miss at any cost.
Infinifilm editions are fun for those who have a lot of free time to devote to special features, especially since they take you deep inside the movie and far beyond. The Last Mimzy DVD offers tons of informative specials and insights, and some of them are particularly interesting to look at because they may help with some of the questions the movie left unanswered. A magical disc indeed!