Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 16 News List

Two children listen to the future in the latest planet-in-peril film

'The Last Mimzy' scores well for wholesome viewing but suffers from jarring product placement - aimed at parents - and an overdependence on close-ups

By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE, NEW YORK

Noah and Emma Wilder carry the weight of the world on their shoulders in The Last Mimzy.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SCHOLAR

Invoking Lewis Carroll, E.T. and Tibetan Buddhism, The Last Mimzy is an overstuffed yet warmhearted sci-fi drama about a dying planet, resourceful kids and a science teacher firmly in touch with his spiritual side.

Adapted from Lewis Padgett's Jabberwocky-inspired short story, Mimsy Were the Borogoves, the movie follows a pair of wide-eyed siblings, Noah and Emma Wilder (Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), who find a mysterious box on the beach of their Seattle summer home. Among its contents are a stuffed rabbit and some strange crystals, and as the children play with them, they begin to develop unsettling abilities. While Noah talks to bugs and draws Tibetan mandalas, Emma becomes convinced that the bunny is trying to deliver a message. From the future.

Despite leaden direction (by New Line Cinema's founder, Bob Shaye) and a story crammed with pseudoscientific flotsam - including palm reading, levitation, time travel and telepathy - The Last Mimzy is a wholesome, eager entertainment that doesn't talk down. Rainn Wilson and Kathryn Hahn are particularly effective as Noah's science teacher and the teacher's New Age-y fiancee, supplying the energy missing from Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson's parental performances and goosing the clunky screenplay at critical moments.

The latest entry in the swelling ranks of poisoned-planet movies, The Last Mimzy suffers from jarring product placement - aimed at parents rather than children- and an overdependence on close-ups. A film gazing this far into the future shouldn't be quite so unwilling to look beyond the frame.

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