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Nim's Island

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Review: Kids will love ‘Nim’s Island’ adventure

"Nim's Island" is pure, unadulterated, escapist fantasy, the sort of roiling adventure film that kids will love but parents will simply have to endure.

Young Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives on a remote, uncharted Pacific island with only her father (Gerard Butler), a marine biologist who studies single-cell organisms and writes articles for National Geographic magazine.

Together they live every child's (and I suspect many adults') ultimate fantasy, a sort of "Swiss Family Robinson" existence, intentional castaways. Nim's school textbooks are encyclopedias, and her best friends are wild animals with whom she can intuitively communicate. When she's not frolicking in the ocean, Nim can be found buried in the latest Alex Rover novel, a series of stories about an adventurer who lives a life not unlike her own.

But you can't always judge a book by its cover. Unbeknownst to the world, Alex Rover is really Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), an agoraphobic, self-imposed shut-in who is terrified of the outside world.

Her only companion is her imaginary hero, Alex (also played by Butler), an Indiana Jones type with a Scottish brogue. When Alexandra finds herself in the midst of writer's block, unable to conceive of a way for her hero to escape from a particularly prickly predicament, Alexandra e-mails Nim's father for some technical advice.

But Nim's father cannot answer because he has disappeared, lost at sea on a scientific expedition. Left to fend for herself, Nim begs Alexandra for help, prompting the reclusive author to reluctantly fly halfway around the world to rescue her.

"Nim's Island" is based on the popular children's book by Wendy Orr and produced by Walden Media, the family-friendly company behind such films as "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Bridge to Terabithia." The film is chock full of the sorts of perils that occur only in kids' adventure films: exploding volcanoes, ravenous sharks, violent hurricanes, shipwrecks at sea, etc. The cherubic Breslin, who gets first billing here, continues to impress. Unfortunately, while Foster is an astonishing dramatic actor, she is a lousy comedian. Her Alexandra, a bundle of neurosis, is rarely funny.

Directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett make Nim so resourceful and self-sufficient that she is the one who should be rescuing the adults, not the other way around. "Be the hero of your own story," writes Alexandra in the novels Nim loves so much. It is advice Nim takes valiantly to heart, to the advantage of her secluded paradise and the disadvantage of the plot. By the time Alexandra comes to Nim's rescue, the child already has things well in hand.

What begins as a one-woman rescue operation becomes, instead, an exotic journey of self discovery for a hermit who has lived only through the characters about whom she writes.


bullet Reading level: Ages 4-8
bullet Paperback: 128 pages
bullet Publisher: Yearling (June 11, 2002)
bullet Language: English
bullet ISBN-10: 0440418682
bullet ISBN-13: 978-0440418689
bullet Also Available in: Kindle edition (Kindle Book) |  Hardcover |  Paperback  |  Audio CD (Unabridged) |  Library Binding  |  Audio Cassette (Unabridged) |  Audio Download  |  CD-ROM (Unabridged) |  Turtleback  |  All Editions

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