A mimzy -- to answer your burning question -- is a tattered, plush bunny stuffed with cotton and an alien nervous system that gives the doll artificial intelligence. Scientists from a dying future need a sample of good DNA, so they teleport the last of these rabbits to a Seattle beach in our present day, where precocious siblings Noah (Chris O’Neil
) and Emma Wilder (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn
) scoop the toy up and bring it home.
So begins Robert Shaye
's pleasant adventure The Last Mimzy, inspired by Lewis Padgett's short story Mimsy Were the Borogoves, which should do for sci-fi exploration what Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids franchise did for family espionage. The adults in Noah's life -- from his parents (Joely Richardson
, Timothy Hutton
) to his science teacher (Rainn Wilson
) -- are too caught up in their daily routine to notice that the boy is changing. It isn't until Mimzy causes a citywide blackout that the military -- personified by Michael Clarke Duncan
-- comes snooping around. The movie, at this point, begins to mimic E.T. without actually becoming its emotional equivalent. Article continues below
Shaye's day job is co-CEO for New Line
Studios -- he helped greenlight the Lord of the Rings franchise (hooray!) and continues to impede Peter Jackson from attempting to film The Hobbit (boo!).
Behind the camera for the first time since 1990's Book of Love, Shaye nails some important themes that keep Mimzy relevant and accessible. The film establishes a comforting family dynamic in the Wilders, despite the omnipresence of technology. One of my favorite scenes in the film finds dad David (Hutton) trying to connect with Noah after a hard day's work. He has to repeatedly ask the boy to turn off a blaring video game system so the two can have an actual face-to-face.
Too many parents in the audience will identify. They'll also enjoy the antics of Wilson, who tones down his dominant Dwight persona from NBC's The Office to find the hippie Pacific Northwest vibe of a Mister Wizard professor who's too cool for school. And most moms and dads will rush home from the theater to download Roger Waters' trippy original tune "Hello (I Love You)", which plays over the movie's end credits. It easily could be a lost track from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album.
The rest of Mimzy appeals directly to pre-teens, primarily boys primed for fantastic adventures. Newcomers O'Neil and Wryn are finds. As Noah and Emma play with their space toys, they grow infinitely more intelligent, but the child actors never lose the important sense of innocence that powers these precious voyages.