At last! A feel-good geek film designed especially for 5th-grade conservationist Mensa students!
On a family vacation, little Noah Wilder (Chris O’Neil) and his younger sister Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) discover an object in the water. Inside they find several objects that they assume to be toys, but when their parents (Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson) notice that the children have started displaying genius-like behavior, they begin to suspect something may be wrong. After a couple of the toys manage to black out the Northwestern power grid, the government begins to suspect something may be wrong.
For any kid that’s ever looked forward to science fair time, The Last Mimzy is the perfect movie. It has children acting smarter than adults and unraveling sci-fi mysteries which could save the planet for future generations. As a result, children also briefly enjoy super powers accompanied by top-notch visual effects to illustrate the kind of power innocent beings are actually playing with. In spite of the adult dangers, the story doesn’t stray far from a child’s innocent and innately helpful of viewpoint (as opposed to misbehaving little hellions that must be kept under the oppressive thumb of constant discipline).
While the film combines the best plot elements of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the sibling relationship of Disney’s Witch Mountain movies, the film’s strengths may also be its weaknesses. The cerebral plot is deep, actually drawing a direct relationship between Nepal mandala depictions of the universe and “Alice in Wonderland.” Are kids going to really understand this kind of deep crystal awareness stuff, or do parent have any chance of explaining to them themselves? There’s also a not-so subtle message that “maybe the hippies had it right after all” (thanks to characters played by Rainn Wilson and Kathryn Hahn) and another stern warning about the dangers of messing with the natural environment (strangely without Al Gore this time).
At its core, The Last Mimzy is a children’s movie with adult themes. It makes a bold assumption that children can handle the subject matter and enjoy the entertainment value while learning something, or perhaps it was meant as a family movie to spark discussion after the film. As a pure flight of fancy, however, there’s too many grown-up concepts to let the movie retain even an illusion of innocence afterward.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)