Presented as a story to a group of students by their teacher Lena that takes place in the distant future, The Last Mimzy is the story of the attempt by humans in the distant future to avert a catastrophic ecological disaster that has destroyed their world. High tech devices disguised as toys are sent back in time and are found by Noah and Emma Wilder, children living in early 21st century Seattle. The "toys" are incomprehensible to Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) and Noah (Chris O'Neil), except for what appears to be a stuffed rabbit. Sensing the paranormal strangeness of the devices, the children initially keep their discovery secret from their parents.
Emma becomes telepathically connected to the stuffed rabbit, and learns its name, Mimzy, and other information from it, acknowledging it as her teacher. Interaction with the devices causes the children to develop advanced knowledge, genius-level intelligence and psionic abilities. Due to her psychic connection with Mimzy, Emma's development of her abilities is much stronger than her older brother's; she is the only one to display empathy, telepathy, levitation, and telekinesis (though Noah can also communicate with her once she has telepathically contacted him). Emma is also the only one who can use the Spinners, strange rocks that when spun, telekinetically float and produce a force-field. Noah's strong psionic/physic abilities are developed through a green card and a seashell. He gains increased intelligence, knowledge, telepathy, empathic communication and control over arthropods. He can also use the card to telekinetically teleport objects through a small dimensional rift after staring at it and observing his surroundings. At one point, Noah becomes somewhat envious of his sister's psionic prowess, but she reveals to him that even though she is the Chosen One, he is her Chosen Engineer and she cannot "build the bridge to the future" without him.
The children's unusual psionic and mental abilities and Emma's attachment to Mimzy alert their parents, especially their mother, and Larry White, Noah's science schoolteacher, to the devices. Later, Noah accidentally fuses the card with a blue blob, turning it into a Generator that causes a power black-out over half the state of Washington, alerting the FBI to their activities. The family is held for questioning by Special Agent Nathaniel Broadman (Michael Clarke Duncan), and it is revealed that Mimzy is actually a highly advanced form of artificial life utilizing nanotechnology created by Intel. Emma tells everyone that Mimzy has a message from humanity's distant future. She explains that pollution has corrupted humanity's DNA, and many rabbits like Mimzy have been sent to the past, since no natural life forms can survive time travel, but none have successfully returned. Mimzy is the last one remaining, but is now dying. The reason for the other Mimzys' deaths is that the Chosen Ones before Emma had no Engineers (like Noah) to help build the bridge across time. Mimzy explains to Emma that she and Noah must use the toys as a time machine to return it to the future with uncorrupted 21st century human DNA, which the people of the future can use to correct the damage to their DNA caused by ecological problems.
Despite attempts by the unbelieving FBI to prevent them, Noah and Emma use their psionic abilities to escape so they can activate a time portal. Before leaving, Mimzy absorbs a tear from Emma, thus providing the DNA required to restore humanity's corrupted DNA. Emma is almost sucked into the future with Mimzy, but Noah grabs Emma and pulls her out of the portal just as Mimzy is sent back to its own time. Following the transport, Noah's science teacher, who was present at the event, claims he saw "numbers", a reference to a previous dream he had with numbers in it, which turned out to be the winning lottery numbers, but missed out because he never bought a ticket - thus exciting his fiancée about this second opportunity. Back in the future setting, Mimzy returns to the future, and humans are finally able to restore their DNA, and more importantly, the "mental corruption" that stripped most of them of their feelings toward each other. The teacher ends the story time and the children levitate and fly home. The world in their time has become a beautiful place, where humanity has integrated into the constructed ecosystems.
The story ends in the current time, with Emma's teacher (Julia Arkos) asking if anyone did anything exciting over the weekend break. No one volunteers, so she calls on Emma at random. Emma smiles.Rhiannon Leigh Wryn as Emma Wilder, who discovers the "toys".
Chris O'Neil as Noah Wilder, Emma's older brother.
Chris Sipe as Noah Wilder (in a few scenes in the middle)
Timothy Hutton as David Wilder, father of Noah and Emma
Joely Richardson as Jo Wilder, David's wife and mother of the children.
Rainn Wilson as Larry White, Noah's science teacher.
Kathryn Hahn as Naomi Schwartz, Larry's fiancee.
Michael Clarke Duncan as FBI Special Agent Nathaniel Broadman.
Patrick Gilmore as FBI Task Force Agent.
Kirsten Williamson as Sheila Broadman, Broadman's wife.
Marc Musso as Harry Jones, Noah's best friend.
Megan McKinnon as Wendy.
Irene Snow as Lena, the story's narrator.
Mackenzie Hamilton and Calum Worthy cameo as Teenage Cyborgs
Well-known string theorist Brian Greene has a cameo appearance as an Intel scientist.
The "toys" are high-tech devices sent from the future by a scientist to obtain uncorrupted DNA. They were sent in a box that has three compartments despite its outside appearance suggesting it has only one. The floor of the first compartment opens to access the second; the floor of the second compartment opens to access the third. The "toys" all have special abilities and are able to give Emma and Noah genius-level intelligence and psionic abilities of their own.Mimzy - an intelligent object based on nanotechnology, in the form of a white stuffed rabbit, which can telepathically connect with certain individuals.
Green card - a green-colored card with endless, moving light lines that make it seem fractured. To most people, it looks like a small, black rectangular slab. It can enable users to teleport objects after staring at it and observing their surroundings. It can also fuse with the blue blob to turn it into a Generator.
Seashell - a white seashell-shaped object that allows the user to hear across longer distances and over a wider range of frequencies than normal.
Blue blob - a blue blob that can fuse with the green card, turning it into a Generator.
Spinners - a large black rock that can break into smaller rocks. The rocks can spin slightly off the ground, and when set spinning in a circle, they create a visible force-field that allows the user to view the time period from which the "toys" came.
The "toys" can be used to send Mimzy back to its original time period. To do this, the green card is first fused with the blue blob to create a generator. Then, the spinners are used to create a force field. Finally, the generator must be used to create energy and blast it at the force field, giving it the power needed for the transmission. This can only be done once. After that, the remaining "toys" break and cannot be used again.
Development and production
The Last Mimzy is loosely based on the classic science fiction short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett, the pen name of collaborators Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore; the story appeared in John W. Campbell's magazine Astounding in 1943. Both the film's and short story's titles are derived from third line of the nonsense verse poem Jabberwocky in Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The adapted screenplay is by Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost, Deep Impact) and Toby Emmerich (Frequency). The film’s production team also included editor Alan Heim (All That Jazz, The Notebook) and sound designer Dane Davis (The Matrix). Visual effects were created by The Orphanage, and location filming was done in Roberts Creek and Collingwood School.
Critical response to The Last Mimzy was mixed, and ranged from saying that it holds appeal for family audiences – especially children – to describing the storyline as distracting. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 53% approval rating saying "The Last Mimzy makes efforts to be a fun children's movie, but unsuccessfully juggles too many genres and subplots — eventually settling as an unfocused, slightly dull affair"."
Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called it, "Wholesome, eager entertainment that doesn't talk down", agreeing with Ken Fox of TV Guide's Movie Guide who said it was "a thoughtful and sincere interpretation that actually get kids and their guardians thinking and talking." Calling the film "lightweight", the Atlanta Journal-Constitution rated it a "small gem". The Chicago Sun-Times went as far as to say The Last Mimzy is an "emotionless empty shell" compared to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Critics diverge about the scientific validity of the film. Reviewer Susan Granger said, "There’s some validity to the challenging science depicted in the film, according to Brian Greene, Columbia University physics professor, and Susan Smalley, UCLA neurobehavioral genetics professor"; by contrast, Rick Norwood (The SF Site) writes, "The Last Mimzy has carefully expunged all of the ideas from the story, and replaced them with the New Age nonsense that passes for ideas these days. They have also taken a very personal story about one family and a box of toys from the future and turned it into an epic story in which childlike innocence saves the human race".
The soundtrack for the film was composed by Howard Shore, the award-winning composer behind the scores of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters also collaborated on a song called "Hello (I Love You)". "I think together we've come up with a song that captures the themes of the movie – the clash between humanity's best and worst instincts, and how a child's innocence can win the day", Roger Waters commented.
- "The Mandala" – 1:37
- "Whidbey Island" – 3:21
- "Under the Bed" – 2:46
- "Cuddle" – 1:28
- "Beach" – 1:59
- "Scribbles" – 2:39
- "Blackout" – 3:17
- "Palm Readings" – 4:12
- "I Love the World" – 0:52
- "Help!" – 1:20
- "I Have to Look" – 4:20
- "Can I Talk?" – 5:26
- "Eyes" – 2:15
- "The Tear" – 4:07
- "Through the Looking-Glass" – 5:03
- "Hello (I Love You)" (with Roger Waters) – 6:16