Based on the oft-anthologized Henry Kuttner/C.L. Moore science-fiction short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves," that the husband-and-wife team published in 1943 under the joint pseudonym "Lewis Padgett," this is okay time-warping stuff, nicely modulated for a PG family crowd, and especially well-played by the juvenile leads of Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn. It dispenses with the authors' original dark matter in favor of a more `uplifting' and eco-friendly tone. Not quite Disney-esque, closer to candy-coated Twilight Zone.
Please-Lord-don't-let-them-go-bad child actors Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh nicely underplay their leads as the Wilder kids, a little brother and sister in modern-day Seattle, who find a box of mysterious `toys' zapped back centuries by a desperate scientist in the distant future. There could have been a product-placement-bonanza between New Line Cinema and Todd McFarlane or Hasbro or some Chinese slave factories here, in designing fancy playthings that could go supernova at Stuff-Mart. But director (and New Line Cinema mogul) Bob Shaye allows the toys to remain largely static and inscrutable - a bunch of spinning rocks, a glassy tablet, and an antique-looking stuffed rabbit named Mimzy (you expect it will walk and talk like the teddy bear in Spielberg's AI but there's more subtlety than that).
Gradually these goodies, which the youngsters keep hidden from their parents (Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson; amazing to see a set of movie parents who aren't divorced and/or dead) endow the kids with superhuman powers of advanced math, engineering, psi, precognition and teleportation. It's good that movie actually celebrates the children's escalating intellect, instead of treating them as misfit freaks. Some government stormtroops show up as low-impact bad guys, investigating the weird, Mimzy-related blackouts, and it turns out the mission of the toys is to fulfill a race-against-time mission that's got a little bit of Twelve Monkeys. And, one suspects, a portion of Al Gore's trendy environmental whinings injected in.
It's a largely painless rainy-day diversion whose major offense is that it just sort of runs out of steam before the ending, and the chase-and-special-effects blowout climax feels a little bit like going through the E.T/Starman/Cocoon, Free Willy motions again. Oh well, one could do worse, and hopefully the filmmakers' integrity will spare us from a sequel called The Mimzy After the Last Mimzy.