The Last Mimzy
Running a movie studio is hard work. So is directing a film. Now imagine doing both at the same time. Joe Roth does it with Revolution Studios and his occasional directing forays. New Line’s Bob Shaye did it once before with Book of Love, and now 17 years later did it again on The Last Mimzy.
Bob Shaye Talks The Last Mimzy
“I’ve directed two feature films, and in both cases, and even though I was running the company, they were both films that resonated so strongly with me that I really didn’t feel I was demonstrating any kind of arrogance be peremptorily deciding to direct them,” said Shaye. “The first one is about growing up in the 50’s, by a guy who grew up in Scranton, I grew up in Detroit. It was funny, it was raunchy, I loved it, and it was just what happened to me. In fact, I re-wrote a lot of the stuff. So there wasn’t going to be anyone else who was going to direct or make this movie.”
The Last Mimzy is the story of kids who find magical toys from the future. Okay, that did not happen to Shaye. “I was a science fiction geek as a kid, as I’ve said, and one day, when I read the short story, [producer] Michael Phillips came in. And it’s a story that I love, very famous short story. So I took on the task of trying to develop it but the problem with developing this story was it didn’t have an ending. It’s a great story about children’s brains not being hard-wired, hardly, and being receptive to all kind of teaching we could never engage in now because everything has sort of come together. But the story ends where the kids become these super beings, step into a circle of these objects they find, and disappear and that’s the end of the story. And we started looking at this, and I said, ‘What do you mean? We can’t have a movie where they just disappear.’ We couldn’t figure out what to do with it, so much so, over the years, I just put it down, and followed the dictum that there are some stories that just don’t lend themselves to making movies.”
But Bob Shaye isn’t a guy who takes no for an answer, even from himself. “I kept gnawing at it, ‘This is a great premise, but I don’t know how to, what that ‘A’ story is.’ What’s the beginning, middle and end? And it took a real long, long time, about five writers, to get it finally nailed down. In fact Toby Emmerich wrote two drafts over a period of two to three years and Bruce Rubin wrote two drafts, plus a lot of extra work over a period of three to four years. And there were a bunch of years, over that 10-year period, where we just didn’t do anything because we were just following that rule of ‘Just leave it alone, you’re never going to get it right.’ But I hope we broke that rule.”
The film deals with complex metaphysical and time bending themes, leaving many of the questions in the hands of the audience to answer. Given that the film is intended for families, Shaye the studio executive is taking a risk on material that Shaye the director left open ended.
“I will tell you we understand the challenges of selling this in an effective way. For instance, there’s a whole subplot between Tim Hutton and Joely Richardson where they’re arguing all the time because she has a job, a business of her own, which has been cut out now. There was really this subtext about the parents wanted to be what they do and they’re blaming each other for the kids being goofy and not understanding it. There was a little more, not salacious. but a little more sex between Rainn [Wilson] and Katherine Hahn and it still would have gotten a PG rating. But particularly in the friends and family screenings, I kept getting these reactions from people saying, ‘You know, this is a film about a five year old and a ten year old, and I had 12 year olds and 14, 16 year olds, and I want to bring my kids here, but I don’t like to see a family arguing all the time, and it’s not what the real story is.’ And with great reluctance, great integrity, [thinking] I’m not going to let audiences tell me what to do, of course I’m going to let that audience tell me what to do if they’re the audience I want to embrace the film. And so, I let this film, consciously, veer itself towards a film that I still think grown ups are going to like and find interesting. People who are science fiction fans are going to, I hope, embrace because just for the visual effects aspect of it and the story line itself. But the core audience is going to be a more family oriented film, and letting the film find its own natural audience ought to help the marketing tremendously. And I think I did a service to the company, as head of it, not to insist and stand on some kind of hubris.”
The Last Mimzy opens to theatres on March 23rd.
For the trailer, synopsis, and more movie info, go to The Last Mimzy Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.