NEW LINE CINEMA
Noah (Chris O'Neil) and Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) find the pieces they need to save Mimzy.
Modernized sci-fi classic makes solid film
With this movie, Hollywood has gone back to the classics of literature. Not "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There," by Lewis Carroll, from which "Mimsy were the Borogoves" is the third line of the nonsense poem "Jabberwocky," but rather "Mimsy were the Borogoves," the acclaimed science-fiction short story by Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore (under their joint pseudonym "Lewis Padgett").
'The Last Mimzy'
Opens Friday in theaters
The story first appeared in "Astounding Science Fiction" in 1943, and has been a staple of science-fiction best-of collections ever since and, yes, has a Lewis Carroll reference. Supposedly, Alice Liddell (the little girl who inspired Carroll) had a stuffed toy rabbit named Mimsy.
And because we live in modern times, the toy has been renamed Mimzy because that's a sassier appellation. And the movie has references to Homeland Security, and every house's room has a flat-panel TV and every person in it seems to work or play with an electronic device. The heart and core of the movie, though, is rooted in 1940s science-fiction values, such as the crazy notion that being smarter is good for you, while most movies today celebrate the liberating power of drooly idiocy.
The story is this: A couple of bright kids in the Pacific Northwest -- charmingly and realistically played by Rhiannon Leigh Wryn and Chris O'Neil -- find a mysterious box of objects that they decide are toys. As they play with them, they either get smarter and smarter or they get better skilled at analysis and reasoning, to the point where their happy parents and teachers are proclaiming them geniuses.
The items really are toys. But they're educational toys from the future. There's some sort of genetic problem in the future that requires a swatch of genetic material from the present. The toys mutate and begin to suck up all the power from Seattle's grid, which not only attracts the notice of Homeland Security, it causes the mother to freak out and panic because, despite all good intentions, she's still a movie mother and her role in life is to create PG-rated familial strife.
This is a good, thoughtful, family-oriented film with solid values and made with a high level of skill. The film is shot in such a naturalistic, offhand style that the CGI elements are doubly striking because of their integration into the scenes. And it's always good to have a movie once in a while that celebrates the power of rationality. Not to mention the brain-straining fun of physics and Euclidean geometry.
Though I wonder why Seattle has so many giant cockroaches in their secret government research laboratories. Oh, that's right. They're there to move the plot along. Like Mom.