Nim's Island

Category: Nim's Island Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 4, 2008 | Publication: Catholic Courier | Author: Harry Forbes
Publication/Article Link:Catholic Courier

NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Nim's Island" (Fox/Walden) is a completely winning yarn set on a solitary South Pacific island where 11-year-old Nim (Abigail Breslin) is left alone when her widowed marine biologist father, Jack (Gerard Butler), goes on a two-day research expedition searching for plankton, knowing his self-sufficient daughter is well able to take care of herself.

And indeed she is. With her friends -- Selkie, a sea lion, Fred, a bearded dragon, and Galileo, a pelican -- and plenty of practical smarts, she's more than capable.

But when a storm capsizes Jack's boat at sea, and later rips through their treehouse-style home, Nim's self-sufficiency is stretched to the limit, complicated even further a day later by a five-inch gash she suffers on her leg. In addition to worries about her father, and what the future will hold, she also must contend with an opportunistic cruise ship company that has just discovered the secret island, and plans to invade their sanctuary with a boatload of tourists in two days' time.

Nim e-mails her hero -- a brave adventurer-writer named Alex Rogers, whose stories of derring-do she devours -- for help.

Nim doesn't know that Alex is actually Alexandra Rogers (Jodie Foster), a highly phobic fiction writer living as a fearful recluse in her San Francisco apartment.

Egged on by the spirit of her fictional hero (also played by Butler), Alexandra works up the courage to leave her home and come to Nim's aid, once she realizes her e-mail correspondent is just a little girl.

Husband-and-wife directors and co-writers Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett deftly combine the adventurous, humorous, sentimental and fantastical aspects of Wendy Orr's 2002 novel. (The script was written in collaboration with Paula Mazur and Joseph Kwong.) The stunts of Nim's nonhuman friends are remarkably well executed.

The three stars are most engaging. Breslin affirms her preeminence among child stars, Butler exudes the same roguish charm as in his last film, "P.S. I Love You," and Foster seems to be enjoying herself immensely in a rare comic turn as the ultimate agoraphobic.

The wholesome story focuses on finding your inner strength, conquering your fears, making dreams come true, and making human connections -- the father-daughter relationship especially is touchingly dramatized -- making this above-average family fare.