The Last Mimzy (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
After watching this movie, I was tempted to put it in the science fiction section rather than family, because I felt like it could be taken more seriously as such than many "family" films can be. Still, I suppose it is a bit better suited to this category, as the main characters are children and the story itself... stretches credibility somewhat. It's based on a story from 1943, which I haven't read, though the plot of the movie apparently differs significantly from the story, aside from the basic premise.
The movie begins with a woman telling a story to a group of young children in a field of flowers. She tells them about how their world was once dying, or whatever, but there was a scientist who had attempted several times to save it. These attempts had all failed, and he could only try one more time. Then the scene changes to a family in our own familiar world. There's a young girl named Emma Wilder, who is a prodigy. There's her older brother, Noah, who struggles in school. Their father, David, is usually too preoccupied with work to spend as much time with the family as he'd like, though he and his wife, Jo, were planning to take their children on a vacation to their beach house. David's work prevented him from going with them at first, though he'd join them later. Meanwhile, when Jo and the children first get there, Emma and Noah find a strange box on the beach. When Noah opens it, he finds a strange... thing, which he can't quite figure out. Later, Emma opens the box herself, and finds a number of objects inside, including rocks she calls "spinners" (when she spins them, they begin hovering just above the ground, and a sort of energy pattern emerges from them), as well as a conch shell, another weird thing, and most importantly, a toy stuffed rabbit who she says is named Mimzy.
The shell gives Noah the ability to communicate with bugs, and also seems to greatly increase his intelligence. Meanwhile, Mimzy just makes odd sounds (I'm not sure if anyone besides Emma and the audience could hear them, though Noah may have), which only Emma can understand. Mimzy teaches her things, apparently. Jo becomes concerned about the way the children are changing, and about their obsession with these "toys" they found. Meanwhile, Noah's science teacher, Larry White, and his fiancee, Naomi Schwartz, have been preoccupied with dreams Larry's been having since a trip to Nepal, where I guess they learned about ancient patterns called mandalas, which since then have been appearing in his dreams. They get involved in what's going on with Emma and Noah when Larry finds that Noah had drawn exact replicas of mandalas, which he had never seen before. And Naomi read the palms of both Noah and Emma, finding Emma's to be extraordinary. Also, Larry recommends a neurologist friend of his do some tests, and it turns out Emma's brain activity is beyond anything anyone's ever seen.
All this just freaked Jo out even more. Eventually, David takes a leave of absence from work to deal with everything that's going on, however... at one point something had happened when two of the objects combined, which caused a blackout. The FBI began investigating the cause of this, which eventually led them to the Wilders, who they took into custody. But Emma and Noah were continuing to develop new powers, which helped them get away, so they could complete the purpose for which Mimzy and the objects had been sent out. I don't really want to reveal anything more about the origins of these objects. I thought it was pretty predictable all along, though there were always at least a couple of possibilities. Eventually, a microscopic examination of Mimzy revealed something that surprised me, and also kind of amused me, while confirming my expectation about the origin of the objects.
In any event... things turn out well in the end, of course. We finally see the original scene again, with the teacher finishing her story to the students in the field. It's kind of... well, one could see it as a preachy ecological movie, though I thought it was okay, and I also thought... it made whatever dangers pollution may pose seem like a far from imminent threat, ironically. There were also certain aspects of the story that really didn't make a lot of sense to me, and things that weren't sufficiently explained. I liked the references to Alice Liddell, and I couldn't help but wonder if the movie was implying that mandalas had been designed in the ancient past because of one of the scientist's earlier efforts, but no one in the movie seemed to speculate about that at all. Whatever, for the most part I liked the movie. The kids were great, Larry was a decent character, everyone else was okay. It wasn't a perfect story, but it was fairly good. And that's all I can think to say.