Judge Eric Profancik accidentally ate The Last Mimzy. He thought it was Glico Pocky.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
-- "Jabberwocky," Lewis Carroll
Why do we see movies? Easy, because it's looks appealing. I want to see such and such movie because I believe I will enjoy it in some manner. Something in the trailer or television ad looked good.
The Last Mimzy came and went very quickly. In other words, it was a flop. But a flop never stops the studio from releasing a big, extravagant DVD, and this movie has been granted the "Infinifilm" designation from the fine folks at New Line. (Actually, I hadn't see an "Infinifilm" tag in a long time and assumed the brand burned itself out.) Oddly, I wanted to see this movie because of a cool special effect in the trailer, so I'm partially delighted with this release. Who knows what the effect was doing or what it meant, but it looked good so I thought I'd give the movie a chance.
Facts of the Case
While on vacation, Noah and Emma Wilder (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, Hulk) are playing on the beach and discover an unusual object just buried in the water. Noah retrieves the box and it opens up to unveil a collection of unusual objects. They quickly run into their vacation house and discover more, less unusual goodies hidden inside. One of these objects is a cute stuffed rabbit. This rabbit can speak and Emma can understand it. It calls itself Mimzy, and soon rabbit and child are inseparable.
Almost immediately, the two children begin to develop abilities. Noah finds himself getting smarter while Emma can do telekinesis. While playing with some of the objects, Noah inadvertently causes a major power blackout in the state of Washington, instigating a massive search by the Department of Homeland Security.
But Emma realizes there's more to this magical box than just amazing objects and abilities. She feels that these pieces are meant to do something, and it's up to her and Noah to figure it out and do it, before Homeland Security discovers the power of the objects.
Having absolutely no idea what The Last Mimzy was about, I was wonderfully surprised by this movie. It's a charming, whimsical tale aimed at children but filled with enough story and heart for parents and older kids alike. It's a definite shame that this one came and went and nobody saw it, for it's a quality tale and leagues better than most "family friendly" flicks.
Starting with the story, The Last Mimzy respects the audience. The plot unfolds slowly, mysteriously. It doesn't spell things out right away, building intrigue and suspense. What's going on with the box? The kids? What's the ultimate goal? Quite simply, what's going on? There's a pleasant level of confusion as things unfold, and it keeps you wondering, waiting—willing things to explain themselves. It's unusual and unexpected to find this level of intrigue in a "children's" movie.
As it is a kid's movie, we have to talk about the two children that lead the ensemble. They are newcomer Chris O'Neil as Noah and semi-seasoned—or fully season for a six year old (her second movie)—Rhiannon. At first I'll admit that I found their performances inconsistent, actually leaning towards unconvincing. Child performers rarely inspire much confidence from me, so I was biased against them, easily noting their weak moments but not giving them credit for all the good they did. Then I watched the bonus materials and listened to the commentary, and I realized I was very wrong. Yes, they do have scenes where their acting is wanting—nobody's perfect—but I somehow missed how good they were the rest of the time. In fact, after having it pointed out to me, I only then realized how truly remarkable they were, especially Rhiannon. Her look in the scene in their bedroom with the spinners is amazing.
The adults in the film are outshined by the kids, for they aren't given all that much to do. Stereotypical busy dad is played by Timothy Hutton (Turk 182!); doting mom, Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck); hippie teacher, Rainn Wilson (The Office); and zealous government guy, Michael Duncan Clarke (School for Scoundrels). It's a solid cast; it's just that the kids get all the good stuff to do.
I'm glad that the two-second special effect shot prompted me to watch this movie, as it's a lovely film; but what about the special effects? That one shot isn't the coolest in the film, but it is pretty good, along with everything else done. They enhance the story as needed and aren't garish or obtrusive…conceding that a vortex in someone's back yard doesn't stand out in the first place.
Lastly, let's talk a little bit about the title, The Last Mimzy. What's going on with this weird title? Is it this weirdness that caused its box office failure? I'm sure the oddness didn't help because nobody knows what a mimzy is, let alone the last one. I won't reveal what's going on with the rabbit, Mimzy, but let's talk about the source of the title: "Jabberwocky." Quoted in "The Charge" above, "Jabberwocky" is a nonsensical verse (one of the most famous) taken from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There." What's quite interesting is how the title, Carroll's book, and this story all converge. That's the most intelligent aspect of the movie.
Having been corrected in that the Infinifilm line does still exist, I can happily report that the transfers on this widescreen edition are excellent. The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic without the slightest problem. Colors are lush, accurate, and often bold; blacks are rich and deep; and details jump out from everywhere. The premier audio option is a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track that is also top notch. While I personally cannot discern an EX mix from a regular 5.1 mix, this one has crystal clear dialogue, appropriate use of the surrounds, and some minor kick from the bass. The movie has a lot of dialogue and some action and related special effects sounds, but it is not an especially aggressive track.
What is aggressive—and intimidating—is the bonus material on an Infinifilm DVD. I've always felt overwhelmed by the menus, but once you start working your way through it, it's not so bad, and usually not quite as expansive as you thought. There are three basic categories of bonus items: "All Access Pass," "Beyond the Movie," and "general."
All Access Pass: This is where you find special features that talk about the movie itself and what went into creating The Last Mimzy.
• Commentary by Director Bob Shaye (Book of Love): Co-CEO
of New Line, Bob Shaye likes to direct a movie every once in a while. This
commentary exudes his love and delight in putting this film together. There's
tons of interesting information throughout.
If you don't like the Infinifilm experience, you can just watch the following featurettes and catch everything. All of them detail exactly what the title says.
• "Adapting the Story"
Beyond The Movie: This is where concepts and ideas touched upon in the movie are given a bit of extra explanation.
• "The Mandala: Imaginary Palace"
General: Here are some odds and ends scattered across the disc.
• Interactive Challenge: Three games that have no long-lasting
value as the games are always the same.
• Interactual: Put the DVD in your PC and have it riddled with the spyware known as Interactual.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's a kid's movie. It's a fantasy kid's movie. It's a sci-fi, fantasy kid's movie. Don't worry about the plot holes and the unrealistic resolution. Just enjoy.
I hope that The Last Mimzy will find an audience on DVD. It's a terrific movie, with a smart story and excellent acting from the kids. The DVD is also loaded with wonderful transfers and solid bonus material. Seeing how parents are always willing to throw junk at their kids, it's a shame this one was missed but I have faith that lazy parents will pick this one up, regardless of the odd title, and then people will realize the missed a good movie. Even though it's a kid's movie, I'm giving this one a definite buy recommendation.
The Last Mimzy narbled in the frilly froes
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Commentary by Director Bob Shaye
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