It’s never fun to completely trash a film immediately upon seeing it. Although there is the temptation to rip apart Bob Shaye’s The Last Mimsy, one must step back and look at the bigger picture. Is the film well intentioned? Yes, it is. It doesn’t appear to be a money grab; it has no obvious product placement or product tie-in (whether deliberate or not); it requires some thinking on the audience’s part; and it exists to entertain small children while passing along a powerful message about the environment. It is a lot more interesting than most of the films aimed at kids these days.
So, you might think, what could be wrong with it? Its main problem is that it doesn’t live up to its own potential. It isn’t enough to take a formula, add in a well-tested screenwriter like Bruce Joel Rubin, slap on a message and a happy ending and voilà, make an instant hit for kids. It needed a better director and a better script, for starters. It probably needed a director who wasn’t the head of a studio surrounded by “yes” people. It would have flourished in the hands of someone who had something to prove. It plays like a movie that was forced into the hands of the studio head because the director took a powder mid-way through. Turns out, though, that this film was Shaye’s all the way.
Based on the short story “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” written in 1943 by Lewis Padgett, The Last Mimsy surrounds two children who miraculously find something on the beach. It’s a weird toy that floats and moves and makes sounds with a little rabbit inside. The young girl (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) bonds with the toy and before you know it, these kids have the great responsibility of saving future humanity (a la The Terminator). The more it is in their presence, the smarter they get, the more powers they have. Their mother (Joely Richardson) notices something is different but is apparently too clueless to figure out that something REALLY IS DIFFERENT!
Eventually, a science teacher gets involved and, believe it or not, Homeland Security. Once the government shows up with their guns and flashlights (a la E.T.) the film becomes a true howler. It is a countdown of predictability from that point on. Poor Michael Clarke Duncan is given the brutal task of reciting the film’s two worst lines. Which lines are they? I will leave that to you.
The movie has taken what was special about the original story, namely the power of mathematics to change the world, and translated it to being about New Age gobbledygook, a child’s tear and a host of imaginary things that have little to do with math at all. Unfortunately, they underestimated their audience; math is exactly what was needed to make this a remotely interesting film. As is, it is too much like so many other films we’ve seen before to stand out for any reason other than as something to do with your kids on a weekend.
Just because families will go see it doesn’t mean it’s worth the money. In fact, this is a movie destined for your Netflix queue.