The Last Mimzy (2007)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy, Message Movie  |   Release Date - Mar 23, 2007 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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As the longtime head of New Line Cinema, Robert Shaye showed a keen talent for coming up with the iconic element that helps sell a big movie. From the creative kills of the Nightmare on Elm Street series to the vast spectacle of the Lord of the Rings films, Shaye built an impressive empire as an executive producer by finding the hook in a movie that makes it memorable. The Last Mimzy was his first attempt at directing a feature, and the finished film definitely reflects his talent for finding and playing up the epic movie moment. The appealing low-tech special effects and the childhood sense of wonder that permeate the film help sell what is actually a very gentle and humanistic story. When it's not inspiring awe with big bangs and moments of excitement, the film offers some lovely passages, particularly the extended sequence where the children (Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) discover the mysterious items sent to them from the future. The two young performers radiate an innocence and an inquisitiveness that's reflected in the overall tone of the film, highlighting the movie's respect for children's innate sense of wonder. These enthralling sections help gloss over the film's imperfections, like clunky scenes that include an overly frightening sequence, lifted shamelessly from E.T., where a happy family moment is shockingly interrupted by uniform-clad government agents who abduct the foursome and place them in black vans. This is one of only two scenes where the film emotionally clobbers the audience, but adults can forgive Shaye these moments because his heart is in the right place. He treats his actors very well, especially Rainn Wilson, who offers welcome support as the young boy's science teacher, giving the children another adult they can trust. Joely Richardson and Timothy Hutton suffer slightly in the roles of the parents, largely because the screenplay seems to arbitrarily change their attitudes and their motivations a from scene to scene. But such discrepancies are easy to dismiss because Shaye understands how to sell the big scenes that stay with an audience after the movie is over.