Spunky tale offers good dose of girl power, adventure

Category: Nim's Island Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 4, 2008 | Publication: Press Connects | Author: Bill Goodykoontz
Publication/Article Link:PressConnects

* * 1/2 (fair to good)

* Rated: PG (for mild adventure action and brief language)

* Starring: Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler. Directed by Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. Twentieth Century-Fox, 96 mins.

Adventure tales typically target little (and sometimes big) boys.

"Nim's Island" is different. The story about a spunky little girl trying to survive on a remote island who enlists the help of a woman (who is more emotionally immature than the kid) offers girl power in heavy doses.

That's a good thing. Nim isn't Indiana Jones, exactly, and she doesn't have to be. She's a little girl growing up in unusual circumstances who hits a rough patch and relies on her wits and skills to ride it out.

Huh. Maybe she is Indiana Jones.

OK, not really. But Alex Rover is, almost. He's the fictional hero in the books loved by Nim Rusoe (Abigail Breslin), the precocious daughter of Jack (Gerard Butler, who also plays Alex in fantasy sequences). They live on an off-the-map island, where Jack studies amoebas and whatnot, and Nim grows up among the flora and fauna.

It's while Nim is reading the latest Alex Rover adventure that Jack, who is searching for a new species or some such, gets stranded at sea. Nim becomes understandably worried and must face severe storms while tending to a nasty cut on her leg. So she e-mails Alex Rover -- who, unbeknownst to her, is actually Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), the novelist who created Alex.

Rover can offer only so much help. She's extremely agoraphobic and can barely bring herself to get her mail. But Nim's troubles worsen, and Rover realizes she's going to have to step outside her closed-off world and into Nim's wide-open one. (She does this with the help of her fictional creation, who is always on-hand, ready with a lacerating quip to keep her on her toes.)

At this point, Nim's Island becomes a sort of cut-rate travel comedy, with Foster milking the stranger-in-a-strange-land bit for all it's worth (and then some).

Meanwhile, Nim must cope not just with the elements and her injury, but with an ugly boatload of tourists who want to turn her island into a porta-potty-studded stopover. And Jack, with the help of some of Nim's animal friends, works to repair his boat so that he can get back home.

"Nim's Island" is a bit of a throwback. While such things as Internet access play a role, setting the film on a remote island takes us back to simpler times and simpler films. The story is a little silly and a lot far-fetched, but there is still an innocence that goes a long way toward overcoming all that. If you're a young girl, in fact, you won't mind the leaps of logic and faith a bit. Why would you? "Nim's Island" is an old-fashioned kids' movie.

Parents might find flaws, but the 12-and-under set will find characters and a movie worth rooting for.