Twenty-five years after E.T. ruled the box office comes Mimzy hoping the magic can work again. Both of our films star young kids (a brother and a sister) who discover something strange and magical, don’t tell their parents, end up running afoul of the powers-that-be in the government, go on the lam, and then end up making everything all right. Oh, and somebody flies in both films, and there’s a sugar-powered product placement in both.
My whole family ended up at a Sunday pre-release for The Last Mimzy, because our youngest said the trailer looked “awesome.” It was a sold-out performance, and I’m afraid our family brought the median age up a few years. Anyway, this is the story of two kids from Seattle who find a black box in the ocean off Whidbey Island, full of artifacts or “toys” from the future. As I think I understand things here, some lonely old scientist from the future has sent them back in time so they will somehow attract the attention of kids like these who will be able to save the future somehow. We were particularly full of anticipation to see Rainn Wilson from The Office in the picture, but without giving too much away here, Dwight remains his signature role without threat from his performance here. The sugary product placement is a can of Sprite (wonder what they paid for that?).
The Defending Champion
E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial was Steven Spielberg’s follow-up (in aliens and UFOs) to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and it managed to appeal to the adults who liked the former and all their kids after. It’s like our generation’s Wizard of Oz. It is one of the great movies of all time, no question, because it has it all: innocence, excitement, humor, and pretty tight plot. It introduced Drew Barrymore to audiences, but the show was stolen by Henry Thomas (among humans anyway) but it also gave us E.T., who remains one of the enduring characters of all time. Sugary product placement? Reese’s Pieces (which, ironically, our family snacked on a bag of during Mimzy).
Start with direction. Not only is Steven Spielberg the master, but Bob Shaye actually has his labored work here feel like an irritant in The Last Mimzy. This is no contest. The little girl in Mimzy, Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, is fantastic, easily on a level with Drew Barrymore. What is surprising about The Last Mimzy is how two top writers, Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich, could be responsible for this script which, although it has its moments, had just about everybody I saw leaving the theater actively discussing the part they thought made no sense (and that included some really young kids). It’s not to say that more of these same kids won’t still go in big numbers and drag their parents with them, but this story doesn’t stand up to Melissa Mathison’s classic script.
I could go on, but it’s pretty obvious that the pedestrian, illogical The Last Mimzy simply can’t stay in the same ring with E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial. We are talking about a knock-out here folks. First round. The champion still has the belt. If you are looking for this kind of fantasy entertainment and haven’t seen E.T. for a while, you’d be better off with its timeless and wonderful story.