“Nim’s Island” an unassuming family film buoyed by a great cast
While we await the first truly great film of 2008, (“Iron Man”? “Indy”? “Zombie Strippers”?), parents can be thankful for the little PG-rated gems that have been arriving monthly. Add “Nim’s Island” to a collection of recent enjoyable family-friendly fare that includes “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and “National Treasure 2.”
There had to be a reason that three very talented actors–Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, and Abigail Breslin–would join up with novice directors (and married couple) Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin to make a live action adventure film aimed squarely at grade school kids.
As it turns out, the all-star cast’s instincts were correct. This endearing film, while not perfect or truly memorable in any significant way, is just what you would want from a film that features a pre-teen heroine who is wet behind her ears but wise beyond her years.
As played by Breslin, (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Nim is a winsome, self-confident daughter of a marine biologist Dad (Butler), who not only knows a thing or two about living on a deserted volcanic island but calls as house pets a sea lion and a very animated lizard.
When Dad gets lost at sea, to Nim’s rescue comes one of her favorite authors, the agoraphobic adventure novelist Alexandra Rover (Foster). Butler is not only a loving Dad, but seen through the eyes of both Nim and Alexandra, he’s also the dashing fictional hero that pops in and out of the story to either enchant Nim or act as Alexandra’s alter ego. Foster rarely displays her comedic gifts. In fact, this may be her first true screwball comedy role as an adult and it’s a treasure.
Part real adventure drama and part fantasy, the film requires the imagination of a child to see beyond the implausibility and accept the detailed tropical environs as worthy enough grounding to keep things simultaneously tense and light. Breslin, as we have come to expect, is naturally sweet, strong, creative and vulnerable.
If you have an eight-year-old child, “Nim’s Island” is the kind of film you won’t be sorry you shared with him or especially her, and if you don’t have a youngster to take with you, you’ll wish you did.
Nims Island Family