I had never seen Guillermo del Toro‘s Mimic until this past weekend when I watched the new Lionsgate Director’s Cut Blu-ray. The film centers on Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), a scientist that genetically engineers a cockroach to kill off disease-carrying cockroaches that are killing New York City children. However, after the experiment proves successful the insects that were engineered to die off have lived on for three years and have grown much larger, some the size of humans.
The film was marred with production issues and ended up grossing just over $25 million on a budget of $28-30 million. It was critically dismissed and now Lionsgate has issued this brand new director’s cut on Blu-ray complete with a brand new introductory prologue and audio commentary from del Toro exploring the pre-production and production turmoil he went through in an attempt to get the film made. And I have to tell you, while the film still plays like an Alien knock-off, this is one of those gems of an audio commentary you can’t get enough of.
After listening to the complete commentary and transcribing over 2,700 of del Toro’s words I have selected the nine most interesting nuggets of information about the film that helped shape not only Mimic, but del Toro ever since.
Del Toro calls it his “imperfect child” and refers to the film as “one of the most important experiences of my life”. Let’s see why…
After turning in a draft of the screenplay Miramax wanted to give it a rewrite and the first rewrite went to John Sayles (The Howling, Piranha), a draft del Toro calls his “favorite draft of the screenplay” but the studio didn’t like it, after that Steven Soderbergh (Contagion) was up next:
Matt Greenberg (1408, Halloween: H20, Reign of Fire) also took a stab at the script, but that too was tossed aside.
The movie del Toro wanted to make and the movie he ended up making are clearly two different things and it’s a matter of putting all of the pieces together to form the larger picture. The next piece of this puzzle comes in the form of casting decisions based on character traits more than the actors themselves.
He also wanted to make Josh Brolin’s character gay but goes on to say, “You can imagine how long that lived with the studio. It didn’t live beyond one draft, I think, or two.”
For anyone that knows the work of Guillermo del Toro, you know he isn’t about the obvious. It’s part of what makes his films so interesting, they aren’t like anything you’ve seen before and listening to the commentary here you learn of just how detailed and specific he got with this idea of genetically engineered bugs that mutate and are soon able to mimic human form. However, it wasn’t cockroaches del Toro wanted to work with.
Along those lines, del Toro happily relays a story he heard second hand from one of the students of the late Stephen Jay Gould who apparently included a question for an extra point on a final exam asking, “What Hollywood movie got right the reason why insects could grow larger?” Mimic was the right answer.