Nim's Island

2008-06-27 10:19
 
What it's about:

Nim (Abigail Breslin) is a young girl who lives with her marine biologist father Jack (Gerard Butler) on a remote South Pacific island. Her only contact with the outside world is through email and the monthly visit from the supply ship. When her father goes missing at sea after a storm Nim writes to her literary hero, Alex Rover, for help. However, Alex Rover is in fact Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), a neurotic author who's nothing like her swashbuckling creation.

What we thought of it:

Nim's Island is fairly low key with a small cast, but it's all the more charming for its focus on main character Nim and the world she lives in. Set halfway between the reality of a small research centre on a tropical island and the world of her imagination, there's a magical mix of real life adventure with animal friends, a sinister volcano and the swashbuckling adventurer Alex Rover from her favorite novels.

Abigail Breslin is fantastic as the spirited Nim. She balances childlike stereotypical stoic cheerfulness in the face of danger with a subtle vulnerability, making the character a lot more real than the protagonist of your average kid's fantasy story. Combine this with tasteful special effects that play a support role rather than becoming a spectacle, and you get a very compelling character you can actually care about.

Gerard Butler shines in the twin roles of mild mannered scientist Jack Rusoe and Indiana Jones parody Alex Rover. As well as he handles Jack, a father balancing parenting and his obsession with micro organisms, it's Alex who steals the show. Appearing in both the imagination of Nim and his creator Alexandra, he provides both ludicrous action vignettes and the comical voice of Alexandra's conscience. Jodie Foster is excellent as the agoraphobic Alexandra who is the complete opposite of her popular creation. It's good to see her in a lighter role and she slips into comedy as easily as she does emotional drama.

The down side of Nim's Island is the occasional lapse into silliness and some weak patches in the script. There's an entire sequence with comical holidaymakers invading the beach that tries a little too hard on the slapstick front. On the upside, the lapses are few and far between.

Ultimately, Nim's Island manages to be a feel good movie that isn't irritating or overly sentimental. The story is very light, and perhaps something a little more substantial would've taken it from being merely enjoyable to excellent. But all in all this is a kid's movie grownups will also enjoy.

- Ivan Sadler

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A young girl who lives on a tropical island with her scientist father seeks the help of a fictional adventurer when her father gets lost at sea, without realising she's actually communicating with a neurotic author.

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