April 05, 2008
Review - " Nim's Island " (in Theatres) - By Roland Hansen
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Starring: Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster , Gerard Butler. Directed by : Jennifer Flacket &
Mark Levin. Based on the novel Nim's Island by Wendy Orr
What 11 year old wouldn't want to live in a tropical tree house, ride on rope swings to get
around their island paradise, talk to animals, and NEVER go to school.
“Nim's Island” is a child’s fantasy come to life. An imaginative 11-year-old girl, Nim (Abigail
Breslin) lives alone on a remote island with her scientist father (Gerard Butler). Her only
companions and teachers, aside from her father, have been the birds and animals on the
island. When her father is lost at sea she must rescue him while defending her island
home from invading buccaneers, all with the help of her animal friends and a fictional
action hero, Alex Rover. It’s Doctor Doolittle meets Home Alone.
Abigail Breslin, fresh off her Oscar Nominated performance in “Little Miss Sunshine” and
this springs romantic comedy “Definitely, Maybe”, once again shines as Nim,
unquestionably the star of the film, and why not? It IS after all Nim’s Island. She plays Nim
as self-confident and resourceful, with an imagination unfettered by conventional
American suburban life. She is also able to show a child’s vulnerability and fears of
abandonment. Nim is, when all is said and done, really just a kid.
However it’s Jodie Foster who steals the show as Alexandra Rover, a shut in writer
of wildly popular adventure novels about a swashbuckling Indiana Jones type
adventurer named Alex Rover. She writes these action stories to make up for the
total lack of adventure in her own life. (One can easily make comparisons to
Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone). A total agoraphobic, she hasn't left her
house in God knows how long. Jodie Foster’s performance was reminiscent of
scenes in “The Brave One”. Except in "Nim" she uses overly exaggerated facial
expressions done more for laughs than to suggest true fear. It is Jodie who is
responsible for most of the comic moments in this movie as she journeys to save
the 11-year-old child and ultimately herself. The taxi scene is especially a laugh
Gerard Butler (300, P.S I Love You) has a dual role as Nim’s father, Jack Rusoe,
and the imaginary Alex Rover. Although it’s a bit of a stretch in believability, he
understandably plays Alex in both Alexandra’s and Nim’s imaginary interludes. He
was especially convincing as the rugged adventurer, more so than as the nerdy,
although inventive, scientist father. (Harrison Ford lookout.)
This film is more two movies loosely connected than one complete narrative. There
is the story of Nim, her magical island, and missing dad, and the story of Alexandra
Rover and her journey of self-discovery and ultimately self-healing.
Alex’s story line is, in all reality, completely unnecessary. So much so that you
could completely cut out Jodie Foster’s part and the movie would have ended up
in exactly the same place. In the end she doesn't truly do anything but provide a
love interest for Jack and complete the family unit (Father, Mother & Daughter).
Foster provides the necessary comic relief and ultimately the storybook ending.
"Nim's island" requires more than a casual suspension of disbelief. From animals
that understand and respond to the English language and display human like
intelligence to flying kamikaze lizards and volcano's that erupt on cue.
Younger kids will love it. Mothers will take their children so they can moon over the
hunky Gerard Butler. I’m sure non-mothers can borrow or rent a kid somewhere,
borrow a niece or a neighbor. This movie is definitely for the 12 and under crowd.
Overall “Nim's Island” is a mildly entertaining kids movie. Nowhere near as
enjoyable for adults of “Harry Potter” or “Shrek” but not a chore to sit through
either. Just sit back, release the logical part of your brain, and enjoy the ride.
As you might expect, you will have to walk out in the end, but , Hey, it IS a kids