'Island' holds path to self-discovery for charcters

Category: Nim's Island Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 15, 2008 | Publication: WCF Courier | Author: Alan Simmer
Publication/Article Link:http://www.wcfcourier.com/articles/2008/04/15/pulse/movies//10274243.txt

While it may sound like a strange sequel to "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the movie "Nim's Island" is a pleasing adaptation of the children's book of the same name. The flick centers around a marine biologist, played by Gerard Butler; his young daughter, the ever-busy Abigail Breslin; and a famous author, portrayed by Jodie Foster.

The plot was far different than I'd expected. Instead of a Swiss Family Robinson-style movie with lots of clever island jokes (look, a coconut phone!), there are solar panels, an Internet connection and a satellite phone. And the script allows each character to embark on their own journey --- Foster to face her fears, Butler to conquer the sea and Breslin to protect the island home she loves.

The writing for this movie is clever. All three characters spend large amounts of screen time alone --- imaginary friends notwithstanding --- but rather than lacing the movie with a bunch of ghastly voice-overs, everyone gets someone to talk to.

Butler has a bird, and Breslin chats with a host of animal friends, including a seal and a lizard. Foster shares her thoughts with the imaginary hero of her wildly successful novels, adventurer Alex Rover, also played by Butler. He is a clever foil for the writer's reclusive tendencies.

I'd never bought into the idea that someone can conceal their identity with nothing more than pair of glasses, Superman style, but Butler is actually unrecognizable when he changes between his roles as adventurer and marine biologist. His accent slips through his father character every now and again, but not enough to be distracting.

Foster plays her agoraphobe rather well, although there's certainly a large portion of obsessive-compulsive thrown in. She lends her character much heart, however, so the audience can believe in her journey.

Breslin, as always, is precocious, and gives her character a wildly independent and combative streak I've not seen from her before. It's good to know she still has depth left unexplored.

It's a cute story, but occasionally requires a leap of faith on the part of the viewer. I can see where it works for kids, but as an adult, I was a little skeptical at some of the plot devices used.

While it owes a debt to both "Home Alone" and every movie ever set on an island, "Nim's" manages to hold its own against those films and find its voice.