“Nim’s Island” is a delightful little fantasy, safe and hearty family fare sure to enthrall most kids and especially girls, who will identify with the adorable, feisty title heroine played by Abigail Breslin, who shone in “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Residing on an abandoned island in the South Pacific, Nim lives with her father, an intrepid writer and naturalist played by Gerard Butler. She has plenty of friends, including a sea lion named Selkie, plenty of lizards, and a super-smart, animatronic pelican named Galileo.
DIRECTED BY: Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
SCREENPLAY BY: Joseph Kwong, Paula Mazur, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, based on the novel by Wendy Orr.
STARRING: Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler and Rhonda Doyle
RUNNING TIME: 95 Minutes
One of Nim’s most constant friends is her favorite hero, Alex Rover, who in hers and the author’s imagination is portrayed by the same Mr. Butler. In one finely realized scene, we see Nim lying on her beach reading, while next to her, the action unfolds: Alex fighting off his captors, who fly over Nim with lusty abandon.
Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, we meet the author of the Alex Rover sagas, a timid soul named Alexandra, played by Jodie Foster. Ironically, this creator of an adventure story is an agoraphobic. Often, we see her conversing with her imaginary character, who tries to prod her into action. He is — you guessed it — Alex Rover himself.
Of course, we wonder whether the writer and little girl will meet, and you can bet that a perilous situation may bring them together. For it just happens that when Nim’s daddy is adrift at sea, Nim intercepts an e-mail from Alexandra herself. Meant for Daddy, it’s an inquiry about life on an island.
One thing leads to another, and now, when Alexandra realizes a little girl is in peril, the writer too afraid to open her door will summon up her courage and depart on what amounts to a rescue mission.
You have to suspend your disbelief on this one, for as you may note, our author can accomplish her mission by making an emergency phone call. Already, we have learned, a supply ship makes scheduled visits to the hideaway.
Alas, it’s a fantasy — one that summons up some witty, satiric humor when we are introduced to a bunch of adventure groupies on a pirate theme tour. A lot of funny things happen when they camp out on Nim’s island — play games, enjoy barbecues and use portable toilets. The nerve of these cads who have no idea a girl now lives there alone. Watch as Nim employs inventive means to rid the island of these pests.
Will Alexandra locate Nim? Will Nim’s father make it back?
Kids will really like, and maybe even adore, this engaging island-jungle fantasy, which is both enjoyable and unpretentious. Breslin shines once more, while both Butler and Foster serve up sturdy performances.
My only quibble: the number of product placements, including built-in ads for a credit card and Progresso Soup.