April 13, 2007
Family Movie Catch-Up: The Last Mimzy, Meet the Robinsons and TMNT
Posted by Christine Hurt

Over the past month or so, our family has sampled the new Spring movies (if only it were Spring here!).  I know that I have fallen down on the job of reviewing family movies on this blog, so here is my round-up of the last three movies we have seen:  The Last Mimzy, Meet the Robinsons and TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

More after the break:

The Last Mimzy.  We saw this movie several weeks before it was released at a "sneak preview."  I took both kids (5 and 7 1/2), and was a little worried that it would hold there interest.  I should not have worried.  Both kids followed the plot, which basically centers around a scientist in the future sending a doll with artificial intelligence to the past to gather some evidence or hope of human kindness in order to save the future.  Although we are only given glimpses of the future, we get the impression that it is a cold, horrible place were everyone is isolated from each other and even wear "boy in the plastic bubble"-type suits that represents the barriers between humans.  (I could never get exactly what the doll (a bunny rabbit named Mimzy) was supposed to gather or how our protagonists were actually supposed to help in the quest, but I guess it all works out.  I tried not to think too hard about it.)  We also glimpse that modern humans are headed that way, with each member of a family focused on a different electronic device much of the time, even during family vacations at the beach.

The movie is basically E.T., but the government isn't as evil and the parents aren't quite as detached and clueless.  Mimzy is found by a brother/sister combination, but this time the little sister is the one singled out, with the brother her "engineer."  The parents are initially freaked out by the changes in their household once Mimzy arrives, but of course they all join together in the end to save mankind.  The ending was a little tense, which my youngest found unsettling, but all in all, it was pretty tame family fare.

Meet the Robinsons.  We had our hopes up for this one, but we were disappointed.  Forty-five minutes into it, both Paul and I would have been just as happy to hear a fire alarm telling us to exit the building.  I think the problem with the movie is that you don't "meet the Robinsons" until the movie is half way over, and then you only see them for about 15-20 minutes.  They are definitely the most interesting part of the movie, but you really don't get to know this quirky, eccentric family very well.  (I predict a Disney Channel series based on the family.)  The bulk of the movie focuses on Lewis, a child inventor who (of course) is an orphan and wants to create a machine so that he can remember the day his mother left him at the orphanage so he can find her.  However, a mysterious man in a bowler hat comes from the future to sabotage his invention, which is about to win a large, life-changing prize.  Wilbur Robinson, son of the greatest inventor, Cornelius Robinson, follows the man back in time to save Lewis and his invention.  The rest of the movie is spent figuring out excatly why Wilbur and the man are interested in Lewis -- who does Lewis grow up to be and what does he do?  Unfortunately, this is made very complicated and really isn't resolved until very quickly in the last part of the movie, the best part.  So, you leave happy because you really liked the way everything got tied up at the end, but you had to suffer to get there.

I'll have to get my colleague Larry Ribstein the DVD when it comes out so he can analyze the role of the corporation in the movie.  Mr. Robinson is the founder of Robinson Industries, which is presented as a great corporation where innovation is rewarded and failure applauded as a necessary precursor to success.  Characters say things like "From failure, you learn.  From success, not so much. . ."  (This seems ironic coming from Disney, which has seen more animation failures than successes lately.)  Mr. Robinson's worst invention has the potential for destroying the world, which could be seen as an anti-technology motif, although inconsistent with the rest of the movie.  However, because Mr. Robinson is able to invent time travel to go back and fix that, I guess the overall theme is pro-technology! 

TNMT.  I have to admit complete ignorance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Not my generation.  So, I did not know the backstory of this new movie.  Fortunately, you really don't need to know much about the backstory.  My 7 1/2 year-old daughter was bored out of her mind at this movie.  If you don't really like constant animated martial arts, then it may not be the movie for you, even though there is a Kim Possible-like female sidekick for the girls in the audience.  My 5 year-old son loved it.  Interestingly, he was more scared during Meet the Robinsons than during TNMT.  I have this theory that (at least my) kids are frightened more by tense moments, suspense, and scary music than actual physical violence.  In Meet the Robinsons, the man and his robotic bowler hat are very frighteningly drawn, and scenes of the potential horrible future have scary music and are drawn in shades of black and gray.  This is more frightening to my son than green turtles high-kicking rival ninjas.

There you go -- have a good weekend!

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