Last Mimzy, The (DVD) (WS)
Based on the acclaimed sci-fi short story by Lewis Padgett, The Last Mimzy tells the story of two children who discover a mysterious box containing strange devices they think are toys. As the siblings explore the unique objects, they begin to display higher and higher intelligence levels -- growing far beyond genius. Realizing that something extraordinary is happening, the children embark on a mission to save our future before time runs out and things quickly spin wildly out of control.
Comparisons with E.T. are inevitable, but the more modest The Last Mimzy is based on the classic short story "Mimzy Were the Borogoves," by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym for husband-and-wife writing team Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore), that anticipated Steven Spielberg's extraterrestrial fantasy by nearly four decades. Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn give winning, naturalistic performances as siblings Noah and Emma, whose lives are transformed by a box of mysterious objects they find on the beach outside the family's Seattle vacation home. Among its contents is a stuffed rabbit that Emma names Mimzy and becomes quite attached. Noah and Emma are your typical outsiders. He is not good at sports, and she is interested in astronomy and plays the violin. But the objects work wonders on them. Their brainpower increases exponentially, Noah is able to drive a golf ball hundreds of yards, and Emma begins to communicate telepathically with Mimzy, who reveals his true identity and purpose. Rainn Wilson of The Office displays an off-center charm as Mr. White, Noah's New Age-y science teacher, who discovers similarities between Noah's intricate notebook doodlings and ancient renderings of the universe ("This is so out of my league," he marvels at one point), and becomes involved in Mimzy's back-to-the-future quest. Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson are solid as the understandably confounded and increasingly concerned parents. Michael Clarke Duncan is a menacing FBI agent who, invoking the Patriot Act, arrests the family after Noah inadvertently causes a citywide blackout with one of the futuristic objects. The Last Mimzy may not reach E.T.'s spectacular heights, but as thoughtfully adapted for the screen by Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) and Toby Emmerich (Frequency), it is a transporting, idea-rich family film that is free of gratuitous coarse language (save for Mr. White's offhand classroom use of the word "screw") or bathroom humor. --Donald Liebenson