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We watch a lot of movies at home, and i always try to challenge my kids (now 6 and 9). We watch a lot of foreign films, all with subtitles, and i try to make sure that at least the movies we watch together, are not sappy fares that talk down to kids. Japan, South Korea, and very surprisingly Iran, produce very good children fares that really do not take kids for morons. The stories are rich in situations, emotions, and sometimes, even conflict and hardship that the protagonists have to overcome.
Iranian Children Of Heaven, The (1997) is a fantastic example of such types of film. It's a beautiful story of a brother and sister who have to share a pair of shoes, and their story when the brother loses them. South Korean Bunt (2007) is another example of a rich story involving difficult topics. Here, a retarded kid becomes a member of a local school's baseball team and learns how to bunt in order to participate in the season's final game. It is sweet, engaging, and challenging for kids. Way Home, The (2002) is another great family fare from South Korea telling the story of a young spoiled boy and his loving grand mother who will put some sense back into the brat. Thai My Girl (2003) is another example of a rich slice of life involving 2 kids growing up in a poor town in Thailand, dealing with the local bullies, strange neighbors, and other affairs of their town. Chinese Hope To Have A Home (2003) follows a young girl and her grandfather surviving amidst extreme poverty in a small village in China. Finally, Japanese 10 Promises To My Dog (2008) is a beautiful story of a young girl and the dog she finds the day her mother enter the hospital after she has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
For some reasons, American family films tend to be much less challenging. Many are downright dumb. I can't believe i recently sat through Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (2006) or Chronicles Of Narnia 2: Prince Caspian, The (2008). So it's a joy when we catch a movie that we all love, and that tries to challenge kids with a story that is not obvious, or high concepts. Such is Last Mimzy, The (2007), a high-concept piece of Science Fiction involving advanced Artificial Intelligence, time travel and worm holes.
Noah and Emma are two young kids who one day stumble across a strange box on the seashore next to the summer house of their parents. Embeded in the strange looking box is a stuffed bunny that starts communicating wth the young girl and presents itself as Mimzy. Strange events will follow as the kids gain capabilities that challenge modern Physics and Medicine.
This is a beautiful movie that instills a sense of wonder that we share with those two kids as they discover a world beyond their own. As the last hope for the future of humanity, they get quikly suspected by the authorities who are closing on them. It's a chase, it's action, it's a great piece of science fiction that should please the most ardent fan of fares such as The Twilight Zone. The cast is very good, and the kids in particular are very natural and feel like 2 real kids. The film is overall very well done, with a very nice score and simple but beautiful and effective special effects.
This is a movie that flew below the radar when it came out 2 years ago. It's a great little film for the entire family that should capture everybody's imagnation.
- Laurent Hasson