The Last Mimzy
Noah and Emma Wilder know that when they leave Seattle for a vacation with their parents on serene Whidbey Island, the beach, the family cottage, the secret stairway to their loft bedroom and millions of luminous stars are waiting for them. What they don't know is that also awaiting them is a carved stone box that will become their portal to an adventure of saving-the-world proportions.
Found in the water on the kids' first day of vacation, the seemingly solid box mysteriously opens to reveal a strange trove of treasures: a conch shell with crystals growing on it, sparkly rocks, a flat green crystal, a blue blob resembling a giant slug and a stuffed rabbit. Of course, none of these things actually are what they at first seem to be. The rocks levitate and spin in midair. The slug-blob gives off a strange glow. The rabbit talks to Emma and tells her that its name is Mimzy. And by staring through the green crystal, Noah discovers that he can make a soda can move from one place to another.
Not sure whether to be awed by or afraid of their new "toys," Noah and Emma decide to keep their stash secret from Mom and Dad. They haul the box back to Seattle, and that's when life really gets crazy. Emma discovers that when she spins all the rocks at the same time, they create a light field that will atomize anything placed inside it. And one night in Noah's room, the toys collaborate—against Noah's will—to create an energy wave that blacks out half the state. Enter the FBI ... and a schoolteacher who thinks he may know something about what the kids have found.
The children's father, David, is a classic workaholic lawyer who is always calling to say he'll be late for dinner. Nonetheless, he takes time to talk through a hard day with Noah, who is complaining that "life sucks, school sucks, I suck." David makes use of the opportunity to affirm that while life and school are difficult at times, "Noah Wilder does not suck. ... In fact, he's the greatest kid I know."
As the film's strange and scary happenings escalate, David decides to take a leave of absence from work so the family can figure things out together. This is particularly meaningful to his wife, Jo, who has been fearful of what's happening to her children.
At the beginning of the movie, both Noah and Emma feel a little out of place—Noah because he's ordinary and Emma because she's not. Noah feels like a failure at school, sports and ... well, everything. He'd much rather play video games than interact with the world. Emma says the girls in her class won't talk to her because she likes astronomy and plays the violin—things her kindergarten peers clearly don't do. But through their adventure, these siblings learn to work together and affirm each other, and both wind up understanding their own special qualities. In the end, it's Emma's innocence and purity that saves the day.
In school, a friend offers Noah a text message with answers to an upcoming test, but Noah chooses not to cheat. Science teacher Larry White gives a somewhat vague message to Noah's class about not polluting the environment and the culture. The goal, he says, is for everyone to do his or her part to create a better future. Though the message doesn't contain a lot of moral depth, it is positive, and it ends up being a key to unraveling the mystery. In contrast, the problem that threatens to destroy humanity is that people in a certain society have become "isolated and warlike," a state The Last Mimzy presents as something to be avoided.
The film opens with a group of children in a field of flowers being led by a teacher in what seems to be meditation. "Today," she says, "I'm going to show you a story. ... Let's all tune in together." The story she refers to is that of Noah and Emma's adventure, and the children close their eyes in order to see it.
The Wilders' vacation takes place on Easter break, and the holiday is referred to as such. That Christian reference cohabits with one about Mother Nature. Noah's teacher, Larry, and his fiancée, Naomi, have traveled to Nepal and have obviously been influenced by that country's Eastern religious traditions. Naomi is seen meditating. After Larry accidentally interrupts, he asks her, "Aren't you supposed to be in nirvana?"
Because Larry and Naomi seem to have the best clue about the things Noah and Emma have found, their Eastern philosophical influence gets entwined with the kids' quest. For example, the carvings on the box, some drawings made by Noah and a recurring dream of Larry's all revolve around an intricate geometric pattern. When the commonality is discovered, Larry explains that the figure is called a mandala—a Hindu or Buddhist representation of the universe. Naomi explains that the specific mandala in question is a very old astrological configuration and it represents a "map to the past and future."
The more the Wilder kids interact with their newfound treasures, the more far-out abilities they seem to possess. Emma can levitate and says she learned it from Mimzy. Noah goes from being a wimp to driving a golf ball more than 300 yards. He makes the sugar from the bowl on the kitchen table move without touching it. Also, his need for eyeglasses suddenly disappears. In response to these and other happenings, Naomi explains that Tibetans believe that certain children, called tulkus, are extraordinarily gifted. She goes on to read Noah's and Emma's palms to determine if either of them is a tulku. Seeking their mother's approval for the reading, she says, "I know it sounds weird, but there are many cultures that take this very seriously."
As it turns out, Mimzy and the other objects in the box have been sent back from the future by a scientist who needs the children's help to save the world. This isn't the first treasure chest he's sent in hopes of getting the help he needs, but he's running out of time, and it will definitely be the last. If Noah and Emma don't solve the mystery and send the stuffed rabbit back into the future with some of Emma's DNA, humanity will be lost. Ultimately we learn that the time travel, the seemingly magical phenomena and the talking rabbit are all fueled by technology, not spiritual forces. In fact, when the FBI takes a sample of Mimzy's insides and analyzes it, a microscopic imprint of her creator's identity is discovered: Intel. So viewers are left with a conundrum: the happenings of this movie feel magical, but most—if not all—of them can be explained by science (fiction).
Two couples are shown waking up in bed—David and Jo, and Larry and Naomi. The Wilders are married; Larry and Naomi are not. (It's implied that the latter couple lives together.)
When Larry gets out of bed, he is wearing just a long-sleeve shirt and very short boxers. At first, viewers can't even tell that he's wearing underwear at all. Larry tries to get Naomi to go back to bed with him by kissing her face and neck. She protests, "Oh, is this what's happening here?" He replies, "Yes it is. It's Easter break. Let's celebrate."
Jo and David kiss. A naked man and woman are shown in silhouette from the rear. (No specific body parts are visible and they're meant to represent Adam and Eve-type figures.)
The objects the kids find have a power of their own, and it's sometimes more than Noah and Emma can handle. For instance, one of the pieces shakes violently as Noah fights to hold on. On more than one occasion, Emma sticks part of her body into the light field. Even though she becomes whole again as soon as she moves away, the atomization takes a toll on her, and she emerges dazed and seemingly injured.
At the height of the Wilder family crisis over what to do with the treasures, Mom, Dad and kids wind up in a yelling match. The FBI bursts unexpectedly through the front door of the family's home. Noah almost causes an accident while driving a delivery truck. Emma falls from a height of about 10 feet, but she isn't badly injured. Noah shoves Emma lightly during a sibling tiff.
Crude or Profane Language
God's name is interjected a handful of times. The is also one use of "d--n." The kids sometimes say rude or rough words such as "wuss," "mutant" and "stupid." The strongest of these words, "sucks," is used half-a-dozen times. Larry references "screwing" with DNA codes and follows up with, "And don't tell your parents I used the word screw."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Noah bosses his little sister around and picks on her. During one episode of his teasing, Emma spits a mouthful of hamburger out on her dinner plate because Noah has informed her that it's "dead cow." Repeated references are made to a dream in which Larry envisioned winning lottery numbers.
While Larry and Naomi are helping Emma and Noah get back to Whidbey Island, Naomi dismisses Larry's worries about them "kidnapping" the kids, saying, "We're talking miracles here! The whole universe is talking to you and you're worried about something as earthbound as kidnapping?"
It started out as a line in Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. ("All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe.") Then it was the title of a Lewis Padgett short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves." Out of that tale, The Last Mimzy was born. The movie posits that Alice (of Wonderland fame) also made the acquaintance of a rabbit named Mimzy, but that she failed to understand its significance and therefore wasn't able to help save the world.
A lot has happened since Alice went through the looking glass in 1872, and we now live in a day when magic is more often than imagination used to explain silly or "unnatural" occurrences in children's stories. And for children who develop a curiosity in actually doing magic, a dangerous world of twisted spirituality awaits. Paradoxically, much of our culture is also eager to dismiss the supernatural world entirely in favor of a more easily explained natural order. The Last Mimzy toys with both approaches—and doesn't really seem to favor one over the other. So what are we to make of it?
This is ostensibly a children's movie, so I'll focus on them: Attempting to kill kids' interest in all things imaginary or "magical" doesn't seem to be the right answer. And it's probably impossible, anyway. After all, what kid wouldn't want to float? Or know the future? Or communicate without using words? Actually doing these things in our world would require either some amazing technology or dark spiritual connection. But dreaming of these things can actually cause a child's heart to begin to hunger for heaven.
So it's up to wise adults to direct young passions in the right direction. And that's a challenge—especially when it comes to going to the movies. Both Eastern mysticism (as represented by Larry and Naomi) and atheistic naturalism (as represented by the FBI scientists) are dangerous philosophies. They're both concepts too big for most children to fully grasp, but ones that permeate our pluralistic society. So the challenge is to find age-appropriate ways to instill truth and weed out error.
Does The Last Mimzy do that? No. Certainly not by itself.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Chris O'Neil as Noah Wilder; Rhiannon Leigh Wryn as Emma Wilder; Joely Richardson as Jo Wilder; Richard Hutton as David Wilder; Rainn Wilson as Larry White; Kathryn Hahn as Naomi Scwhartz; Michael Clarke Duncan as Nathanial Broadman
Robert Shaye ( )
New Line Cinema