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'Nim's Island' could do without split stories

Category: Nim's Island News
Article Date: August 7, 2008 | Publication: The Gainesville Sun | Author: Nate Hensley

Posted by: stagewomanjen

'Nim's Island" promises the viewer a fantastical, imaginative romp with a precocious little girl on her own enchanted island. Can it deliver on what it advertises? And even if it can, will that be enough?

Magical, dangerous, outlandish islands are fairly common in the movies. And I'm not even counting the ones without monsters and human-like animals. Sorry, Treasure Island and Gilligan's Island, you'll have to wait your turn. And in a cinematic sea so chock full of isles, does "Nim's" really stand out?

The answer, in a nutshell, is "no."

Abigail Breslin (she who was so winning in "Little Miss Sunshine") stars as Nim, who lives on a far-flung island with her scientist father (Gerard Butler). Nim spends her days with super-smart animals, including a dancing sea lion, a devoted lizard and a very helpful pelican. During a massive storm, dad gets lost at sea, and Nim is left to fend for herself.

Halfway around the world, Jodie Foster plays a shut-in who is the author of a series of famous adventure novels. The star of those books is a hero to Nim (and is also played by Butler). He appears to Foster as a life coach - he may be a figment of her imagination, but a troubling scene indicates he is actually a Tyler-Durden-style split personality. When Nim contacts her for help, she tries to overcome her fears and rush to the island.

The movie is cut into segments; of Foster heading to the island, of Butler trying to get home and of Nim's adventures. I will not go into detail about Nim's story, because the movie has so few surprises in it that I don't want to squash whatever little fun it has to offer. Suffice to say, these are the most fun parts of the movie. Foster tries gamely, but her character is only a distraction from the star of the movie. It is "Nim's Island" after all, not "the neurotic grown-up waiting at the airport to go to Nim's Island" Thus, instead of having three good actors all working together, there are three different stories, and two of them aren't very interesting.

"Nim's Island" isn't so much magical and enchanted as just earth-friendly. That all the animals are so smart isn't because of Disney magic, just because Nim is so in tune with the island. This is all well and good, but the movie pushes it a little too far at times, like when Nim finds a candy wrapper and picks it up mournfully. It made me flash back to the old public service announcements with the American Indian crying over litter.

"Nim's Island" isn't a bad movie, just disappointingly average. It might provide a decent way to kill time, but it doesn't have anything new or substantive to offer a movie fan.

But there are a lot of really great islands out there to be explored. Here are ten different islands you should visit before checking out "Nim's Island"


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