Charming family entertainment (blog)

Category: Nim's Island Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: June 1, 2008 | Publication: | Author: Editor
Publication/Article Link:

Like in last year’s Bridge to Terabithia, this story based on Wendy Orr’s children’s novel finds the world of fantasy and reality happily intermingling.

Eleven-year-old Nim Rusoe (Abigail Breslin) lives on a remote island with her marine biologist widowed father Jack (Gerard Butler). She is a contented child who has adventures in the glorious vegetation and loves her animal friends, Selky the sea lion, Fred the lizard and Galileo the pelican. She is also an avid reader whose favourite fictional character is Alex Rover.

So when her father gets lost at sea she decides to email her literary hero for help. But what she doesn’t know is that Alex Rover is in fact a woman called Alexandra (Jodie Foster), who is a reclusive agoraphobic, which imprisons her in her San Francisco home. While writing Alexandra’s only ally is her fictional namesake Alex Rover (also Gerard Butler), who gives her little pep talks. So when they both find Nim’s e-mail it is Alex’s constant badgering that makes Alexandra finally decide to leave her isolation and help Nim.

He says to her “Courage has to be relearned; be the hero of your own life story for once”. While Nim valiantly and enterprisingly survives without her father, Alexandra has a troublesome time getting herself out of her front door, never mind boarding taxis, planes, a ship and stealing a rowing boat in order to rescue young Nim.

It is so nice to see Foster as an adult in a light family comedy. Of course she was a child actress in many such films, starring with the likes of the late great David Niven in Candleshoe (1977).

But since childhood we have only seen her in much more terrifying dramatic roles. She is priceless here and never goes over the top, but I am doubtful whether this story’s target audience will understand what agoraphobia actually is. After her triumphant success in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Breslin did her best with the tiresome child in this year’s Definitely Maybe, but Nim is perfect for her and here her star shines yet again. Butler’s parts work much better on screen than I thought they would, as he plays hero Alex as an Indiana Jones character, but his roles aren’t that interesting. This is lovely to look at, though it does drag in parts. But mostly we have here delightful and charming family entertainment - though I am not sure the RSPCA will approve of Nim using lizards as catapults, even though it is in a good cause and they appear to be willing participants.