'Nim's' throwing a fun-filled rescue party

Category: Nim's Island Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 4, 2008 | Publication: Signs on San Diego | Author: Jane Clifford
Publication/Article Link:Signs on San Diego

The trouble is in what you expect – a Film or a film. Once you get past that, the experience is usually much more enjoyable.

“Nim's Island,” which opens today, is a film – a fun, hold-your-breath-at-points, adventure comedy starring America's current favorite child – Abigail Breslin.

This is Breslin as you have seen her many times: the child with parent problems. In “No Reservations,” she was an orphan; in “Definitely, Maybe,” her father was getting divorced; she was an orphan in “Raising Helen,” too, and there are too many family problems to list in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

In “Nim's Island,” her mother has died and she lives with her father, Jack (Gerard Butler), on a remote island where he does scientific experiments.

The story, from the book by Wendy Orr, is about Nim and her dad living the simple life, until a crisis hits. He hops on his boat for a day away to collect some special plankton, leaving Nim, who begs to stay for the birth of her turtle babies. Predictably, he gets caught in a storm.

Meanwhile, author Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster) is sitting at her computer in a San Francisco apartment, struggling with writer's block. The hero she's created – named “Alex Rover” – is a globetrotting adventurer whose books are among Nim's favorites. Problem is, Alexandra Rover is afraid to step out of her front door.

Serendipitously, Alexandra, groping for a way to get Alex out of a bind involving a volcano, runs across an article by Jack and sends him an e-mail, asking for some information that will help her finish the scene and the book, which her agent has reminded her is running past deadline.

Nim flips when she see the message in her dad's In-Box and responds. One thing leads to another and soon the agoraphobic (and germophobic) Alexandra is on her way to help Nim find her father, or at least be with her if he's dead.

This is Jodie Foster as you've never seen her. The opening scene in her apartment shows her freaking out over a spider that's crawling across her desk, in the shadow of several bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. She tries to do battle with the spider, rubs her hands furiously with the Purell, paces the room. This woman is afraid of her own shadow. Later, we see her begging in a whisper to the postman to bring the mail to her door so she won't have to go outside. Foster's physical comedy – she wipes things down, wrings her hands, worries aloud, stumbles, falls and more – is so well done it brings Lucille Ball to mind.

You may not even notice that Butler is playing both Jack and the character Alex Rover, who comes to life to both taunt and encourage Alexandra. The Jack role, save for its endearing father-daughter moments, is more-often emotionally overwrought, including a scene where sharks are circling his little boat and the camera pulls back for his “I'm going to get back to you, Nim” speech, reminiscent of Scarlett O'Hara's “As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again” scene in “Gone With the Wind.” But at least she had been through the Civil War.

He's quite good as Rover, though, dashing and funny. And you won't be disappointed in Selkie the sea lion, Fred the bearded dragon and Galileo the pelican. They are as entertaining as the humans in the film.

Breslin shines, too. This is a more physically demanding role for her; she's riding the sea lion in the water, climbing on the roof to fix solar panels after the storm, and carrying a catatonic Alexandra across a ravine on a zip line.

“Nim's Island” is a film the whole family will enjoy and one that will leave you thinking that you, too, may be able to do some things you've been afraid to try.