EW Staff
July 13, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”The Last Mimzy”: Not quite the new ”E.T.”


The Last Mimzy
PG; 97 mins., 2007
Comparisons of Mimzy with another great sci-fi flick, E.T., are all but unavoidable, especially since this too features an adorable and precocious girl, Emma Wilder (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn), and her brother, Noah (Chris O’Neill, a dead-ringer for E.T. star Henry Thomas), who encounter a being from outer space. Only this being, Mimzy, gets washed up on the shore of the Wilder vacation home on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle, inside a curious cube of sorts that holds various shiny, spinning rocks. You see, Mimzy is a stuffed rabbit, loaded up with Intel chips galore and sent from the future to determine if there are any good souls left on Earth.

Mimzy’s tale actually predates E.T. — it’s based on a 1943 short story by Lewis Padgett (a pen name for Henry Kuttner and his wife, C.L. Moore) called ”Mimsy Were the Borogroves.” But whereas the charm of E.T. was that it was basically normal kids (plus an alien) vs. grownups, making it very clear who to root for, Mimzy is not so clear cut. The rabbit’s unusual powers have Emma and Noah doing tricks that are not so much charming as they are alarming: levitating, practicing telekinesis, and predicting the future. Noah certainly wows everybody at the science fair, but we don’t get the sense that all this knowledge has made his life any better (dad Timothy Hutton still works an awful lot), and Emma doesn’t win any new friends besides Mimzy (she actually frightens a babysitter so much that she goes running for the hills).

Comic relief is provided in the form of an offbeat science teacher (The Office‘s Rainn Wilson) and his Lotto-obsessed palm-reading girlfriend, but those moments are few and far between. Perhaps I’m holding Mimzy to too high a standard — the children I watched it with were certainly smitten — but I couldn’t help wishing that it was a little sweeter and a lot less coldly scientific. BEileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 5 and up

Follow Along DVDs
Various titles
Here’s something besides the summer-reading club at your local library to prevent cobwebs from forming in your kids’ brains this season: the first in a series of discs that employ Kids Captioning — a version of karaoke, if you will — in some of their favorite films. So little ones can brush up on their vocab when words are individually highlighted on screen on such films as Anastasia, Ice Age, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Kids, Robots, The Sandlot, Stellaluna, and Thumbelina. Now if only they can add in subliminal messages about cleaning rooms and brushing teeth… — EC


Dream Big!
Roger Day
It’s easy to picture Roger Day in his former life as a camp counselor, because his songs are uplifting (”Dream Big!”), silly (”Zachary Hated Bumblebees,” featuring this gem: He was scared that he would get stung / Just because his epidermis was young), and participatory (the Spanish-language charmer ”Uno, Dos, Tres”). This collection, Day’s third studio CD, is the next best thing to sleepaway camp. There are odes to yaks and roly polys (featuring the Crickets), reggae-tinged sweet ballads (”Life is a Miracle”), and a wonderful song for anyone who’s celebrating a birthday: ”The Greatest Day on Earth Day.” B+EC
Recommended ages: 2 and up


At Night
Written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean
In Bean’s wonderful first book, a sleepless little girl, feeling a soft breeze coming through the window, lugs her pillow and blanket up to the rooftop garden of the family’s building. There, amid hanging laundry and potted plants, she builds a snug little nest, and — with the lights and sounds of New York City enveloping her, and making her feel safe — her eyes soon close. The gentle melody of the prose might lull even parents to sleep, and Bean’s watercolors (I loved the one of the nighttime city) are entrancing. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 3-6

This board book, part of a new interactive series from Scholastic, will engage babies with its bright colors and different textures, but its relatively large size will make it hard for them to pick up or handle. Toddlers, though, will like feeling the textures: a bright green frog’s bumpy skin, a chick’s soft yellow down, a sheep’s coarse white wool. It’s meant as a teaching tool for this age group, a chance to learn the names of colors and animals, and for them it succeeds nicely: It’s the kind of book small children return to time and again, learning new words and concepts almost effortlessly. BTJ
Recommended ages: 3 and younger

By Richard Platt
No one in my family can stand bugs, even my husband (he’s a big burly guy who quails at the sight of a spider, thank you very much, leaving to me the task of all insect removal). So imagine his horror when I showed him this Dorling Kindersley book, a crisp, comprehensive, vividly photographed collection of, well, bugs (as the fly-and-beetle studded jacket promises, ”every creeping, crawling, flying, stinging, poisoning, regurgitating, buzzing creature you can imagine”). Want to learn about insects’ eyes? What kinds of bugs are edible (and would you like a recipe for chocolate-covered grasshoppers)? What bugs kill? How, exactly, is honey made? Buzz brims over with facts and truly repulsive close-up photos — the kind that made me not want to eat any breakfast, but the kind that sent my 11-year-old neighbor into raptures. ATJ
Recommended ages: 7 and up

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