When I first glanced at the list of movies on the plane ride home, it seemed like the usual list of boring second rate movies. But the title of one of them stirred something in my memory.
What was that? Mimzy? The Last Mimzy?
It couldn't be.
But, yes, it was. The Last Mimzy is based on the classic short story by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym for two other authors) called Mimsy Were the Borogoves [link to a very worthwhile classic sci-fi collection, including this story].
A short description of each (SPOILERS):
Written in the golden age of SF, and therefore a merciless SF story, MWtB is a tale of a careless science experiment which places futuristic toys in the hands of contemporary children. Two children discover these toys and begin an education so alien that it changes their life to one that anyone in our modern world can't comprehend. They fulfill their growth by eagerly fading away into some other dimension that their parents can't follow, leaving the parents confused and bereft.
The story is not exactly a paragon of fine writing, with some absurd leaps of understanding by the main problem solver and emotionless children leaving their parents without a care in the world. Common themes from the period were employed, such as the irresponsible scientist and the all-knowing researcher. But the story expressed some interesting ideas about our assumptions on logic and logical systems.
I have to admit, I found it hard to believe that this bleak tale was going to make it to the screen unchanged. It didn't, of course.
This adaptation uses only the basic superficial idea from the story; namely, that some toys are sent back into the past, kids find them, and they learn amazing things from them. But that's where the similarities end.
The toys are sent back deliberately in the movie with the hope of them being found, interacted with, and sent back. In this way, the movie tries a lot to be like E.T. The toys are sad and dying, and need help getting back to the future.
The toys don't teach the children alien thought, they simply teach the children how to use their brains in an advanced manner.
And there is no danger to the children in this movie; they are not destined to leave for another dimension. They simply have to send the toys back there.
Any other relationship between the movie and the story is purely coincidental.
As a movie, it does pretty well until the FBI gets involved, and then it breaks down into formulaic, plot holed silliness like so many other unbelievable Hollywood movies. Kind of like the ending of A.I., if you get my drift.
All in all, it's a nice clean movie for all ages, and it doesn't pander to the audience. It goes off in the last half hour, but not horribly so, just by not living up to the rest of the movie.