Home > Reviews > THE LAST MIMZY – Howard Shore

THE LAST MIMZY – Howard Shore

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Some have said that “The Last Mimzy” is the most hopeful and optimistic movie to come along in some time, and they are quite right. “Optimistic” is an appropriate word, perhaps “deluded” is another. The movie strains so hard to create a world of beautiful fantasy that it very nearly snaps. This bothered me quite a bit, as many portions of “The Last Mimzy” feel like a deceptive set-up to a freaky horror movie, but no, everything goes smashingly from start to finish. Then again, the movie wasn’t made for me, and it’s a bit difficult to gauge how children will respond to it. I suspect a lot of them will like it well enough, probably because it doesn’t treat them like mentally challenged schizophrenics.

As in so many children’s stories, two children are at the center, a boy and a girl. When playing near the ocean one day, they notice a mysterious box that has floated up on the shore. It’s not a normal box with a lid, it’s a mysterious box that’s lacking a conventional way to view the contents. After messing with it for a bit, the children inexplicably fail to meet a pale man with nails in his head. Instead, a bunch of strange objects are presented to them, including a murmuring stuffed bunny rabbit. The little girl can understand everything the rabbit is saying, and the rabbit says it’s name is “Mimzy” (a reference for you Lewis Carroll fans out there).

Mimzy has a huge influence over the children. They have a loving relationship with their parents, but they keep their new secret hidden, and obey the stuffed rabbit when they must choose between one side or the other. The boy also begins to develop remarkable powers, such as being able to communicate with spiders. I was wondering whether the little rabbit would turn out to be a demon, and tell the children to do something horrible, but no… Mimzy’s ultimate goal is for the children to help bring about world health, hope, love, and peace for future generations.

The film follows “E.T.” to a pretty close level plot-wise, but lacks the magic of Spielberg’s wonderful family film. It’s cute enough, but a little too ridiculous in some areas. I’m not talking about things like the boy getting magical powers. I’m talking about a group of super-serious government agents suddenly abandoning all of their instructions and just giving up on what they are doing for the sake of the plot. Also… well, I don’t want to offend anyone of any particular religious persuasion, but the air headed new age foundation of the film is about as hokey as it gets. All the palm reading, levitation, prophetic dreams, and pseudo-spiritual spouting gets a bit tired after a while, especially considering the very scientific explanation of everything that is going on. This movie envisions a future where the air is clear, the fields are full of flowers, everyone flies through the air wearing pastel pajamas, a serene smile is plastered on every child’s face, and no one opens their mouth to speak… they use good old telekinesis. No, I’m not being sarcastic.

The film’s score is provided by Howard Shore, and it’s a somewhat odd effort. On CD, it makes a reasonably pleasant listening experience, but it feels very uncomfortable during portions of the film. Shore is a composer who typically works in darker arenas, though he has certainly done a few charming little scores for movies like “Big”, “Nobody’s Fool”, and “Mrs. Doubtfire”. Here, he seems to want to balance the weight of his more serious scores with the melodic fluff of a children’s score. His music keeps the orchestrations dense and heavy, but he seems to have conducted the orchestra with a particularly light touch… if one didn’t know the context, they could call the performance “unenthusiastic”. I understand what Shore is trying to do here, but it makes the music feel half-hearted on numerous occasions. Perhaps letting a smaller ensemble of musicians perform with energy would have been a better idea than letting a large orchestra play everything with restraint? Still, the score is generally nice and rather well developed, even if the Rogers Waters song (music by Shore) which plays over the end credits is a real letdown.

The movie didn’t quite work well enough for me to give it a recommendation, but you could do worse at the movies right now. The sincerity of the film is appreciated, and there’s some nifty special effects along the way. Adult performances are pitched at the right level. Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson are quite credible as the two befuddled parents, behaving as most parents would in such a situation. Rainn Wilson is wonderfully quirky as a perceptive school teacher, and so is Kathryn Hahn as his fiancé. Michael Clarke Duncan gets a lovely introduction midway through the movie, it’s a graceful touch that many movies would fail to include. Those seeking a reasonably decent family film will be okay, but this one will be far better received by children than by their parents.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • The Mandala (1:38)
  • Whidbey Island (3:21)
  • Under the Bed (2:46)
  • Cuddle (1:27)
  • Beach (1:59)
  • Scribbles (2:38)
  • Blackout (3:16)
  • Palm Readings (4:12)
  • I Love the World (:52)
  • Help! (1:20)
  • I Have to Look (4:09)
  • Can I Talk? (5:25)
  • Eyes (2:15)
  • The Tear (4:07)
  • Through the Looking Glass (5:02)
  • Hello (I Love You) (written by Howard Shore and Roger Waters, performed by Roger Waters) (6:16)

Running Time: 50 minutes 43 seconds

New Line Records NLR-39084 (2007)

Music composed and conducted by Howard Shore. Orchestrations by Howard Shore. Recorded and mixed by Lawrence Manchester. Edited by Jonathan Schultz. Score produced by Howard Shore.

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