In case you were wondering, a "Mimzy" is some sort of advanced robotic messenger sent from the far future to record lost human emotions, cleverly disguised as a child's fluffy stuffed bunny. Or something like that. This illegitimate cousin of The Velveteen Rabbit is at the mushy center of a peculiar kid's pic that waffles between intriguing and annoying right till the end, when it goes terminally sappy. This is an unappetizing mélange of ingredients pinched from other, better fantasy films it evokes, A.I., E.T. and a few other less polite acronyms.
Based on Lewis Padgett's novel All Mimsy Were the Borgoroves, the story dependably follows genre mandates, featuring a pair of very ordinary children who discover the mysterious and wonderful literally bubbling to the surface. Siblings Noah and Emma Wilder find a strange chest floating on the shore of their family's Seattle beach house, a box filled with weird artifacts and one chatty stuffed animal. "Mimzy," as Emma calls her, doesn't really talk so much as buzz and mumble, but the little girl clearly gets the message, and begins moving items around the breakfast table with the power of her mind. Meanwhile, her older brother learns to teach spiders to weave complex three-dimensional webs, and he begins to draw designs that look suspiciously like ancient Tibetan mandalas.
Though their dippy yuppie parents are pretty oblivious, Noah's nerdy elementary school teacher Larry White (Rainn Wilson) takes notice. Larry has been having premonitions in his dreams, and his hippie wife eagerly sees the kids as the coming of a new golden age. The government, however, is not so psyched about these wonder kids, especially after Noah creates a blackout with one of his glowing crystals, and a no-nonsense FBI agent (Michael Clarke Duncan) is on the case. All of this would be progressing toward an exciting conclusion, but the movie chugs along at snail's pace, and even the nifty special effects are rendered in a relaxed style that borders on sleepy indifference. A snoozy Timothy Hutton seems in particular need of a shot of espresso, though it doesn't help that he's working opposite two of the dullest child actors on record. Some might be enchanted by the quirky rhythms of Mimzy, but the movie can't decide if it wants to be creepy or awe-inspiring, and ends up being merely icky on its way to a jarringly silly conclusion. Hopefully the title will prove to be true, and we will never be subjected to another Mimzy.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].