The Last Mimzy could have been a really strong film. I ended up feeling that the potential for this movie probably started out as a full bucket’s worth, and that a person then picked this bucket up and ran a mile over rough terrain before dumping the potential that hadn’t already slopped over the sides into a film canister. I’m, uh, still working on that analogy.There a lot of things that shine in this movie. Rhiannon Leigh Wryn delivers a dynamite performance that puts literally every other actor in the movie to shame. She plays the part of a six-year-old girl, although that’s sort of like cheating because that’s exactly what the actress is. Still, she’s awesome. Rainn Wilson is also fun to watch as a bit of a wacky-yet-realistic science teacher. Chris O’Neil plays Rhiannon’s older brother, and swings between acting like a believable young punk kid brother and sounding like he has dubbed over his performance with read lines and a horrible sense of timing. Oh, the good things first, right. So, there is some time travel involved, and that part is all really cool. I like what they did as far as that bit of the story was concerned, and the visuals (for futuristical thingamajiggers) are solid.
Amazingly, the things that ring the most hollow and false in the movie have nothing to do with the time travel element in the movie. Usually, time travel is by far the biggest problem in the movies that use it in some way. But here, the problem is instead that there is a lot of rather poor acting, there is an abundance of characters who behave as if they are unaware of how people on Earth go about life, and there is an over-abundance of plot quasi-elements that have nothing at all to do with each other (nor with the plot).
The characters who act unbelievably (no, I’m not talking about the actors who act unbelievably bad, here) are what I choose to take issue with, because that affects the plot, emotional investment in the story, believability and so on. And now I’m going to have to spoil a bit of the story for you:
Emma and Noah are the two young children of David and Jo Wilder. David is a stereotypical workaholic father who apparently misses a lot of family events or something, and Jo does the best she can by being a loving mother that treats her children as if they are undecipherable Martians when they don’t bend to her every whim. Emma and Noah receive a care package from the future one fine day, and their lives change completely as a result of the objects inside of it that change them when used. Emma’s character doesn’t change very noticeably, but Noah one day gains perfect vision and stops wearing glasses, like Spider-Man. His parents let this slide, since they spend a whole ten seconds in a “Noah, go get your glasses!” “No, it’s okay!” “Noah, get your glasses!” “I’m fine!” “Noah, put your glasses on!” “It’s okay, I’m fine!” loop. Another day, he uses another ability to hit a golf ball over 300 yards while at the range with his dad. His dad is proud, but staggeringly unimpressed by the feat. And, upon yet another occasion, Noah puts together a science exhibit for school that consists of an ability which allows him to program a computer to issue verbal controls to a group of spiders, making them build a tunnel-like suspension bridge with their webs. The other kids and the parents with them (including Mr. and Mrs. Wilder) are slightly more impressed with this than with little Jimmy’s volcano exhibit that features a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar.
One of the futuristic “toys” is confiscated by the government, analyzed properly as an incredibly futuristic technology that is in NO way possible connected to this time’s abilities… and experts on the subject are demanded, as well as a way to logically pigeonhole this technology in a way that ties it to A) this time, and B) our technology. Later, despite being consistently rabid about the “toys”, the guv’mint fellows decide to pack up and leave. True, that happens after the climax of the movie. But they don’t even seem interested in continuing (or even wrapping up) what is obviously the most interesting investigation they’ve EVER been involved with; they just drop it like they were ashamed to ever have picked up such a hot potato.
And then, the conclusion (not the literal end, but the bit practically at the end that lays out the “and so this is what happened with all of that business you just watched” exposition) of the movie comes about as a thick, five-second-long metaphor that certainly doesn’t make sense in a pleasing manner literally, and doesn’t seem to satisfy me much as a metaphor, either.
Yes, it’s true, I have more fun with criticizing and nitpicking than I have when pointing out the good features of a movie. I’ve probably made The Last Mimzy sound pretty damn stupid, but in fact I liked it – thought it was a pretty good yarn, and very interesting to watch. Just don’t expect common sense to intrude upon the minds of some of the characters…