Nim’s Island
Walden Media Scores Again

Nim’s Island, the latest release from relative newcomers Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, is the best example of a “Family Film” I have encountered in several years. There is material for children, ’tweens, teens, and adults—a rare combination these days.

Nim (played brilliantly and believably by Abigail Breslin) lives on a deserted island in the South Pacific. Her mother having presumably passed away, Abigail and her father, Jack, work as a modern scientific team, trying to discover new species of protozoa, which, once discovered, will be Protozoa Nim. A voracious reader, she is ecstatic when the scheduled supply boat delivers not only the bare necessities, but the latest book by Alex Rover, a fearless adventurer who travels the world—a veritable hero of his own stories.

Jodie Foster as Alexandra in Nim's IslandWhen Nim’s father, Jack, leaves on his first solo two-night exploration, the confident and precocious Nim remains unflappable, reassuring her passionately scientific and intensely devoted and loving father (in a fashion somewhat reminiscent of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, she uses “Jack” and “Dad” interchangeably). Not surprisingly (given some of the more overt foreshadowing), a monsoon rolls in during Jack’s absence. Once the monsoon has passed, Nim repairs the solar panels, hops on the Internet, and, while checking her dad’s e-mail, finds a message from none other than Alex Rover, who, while surfing the Internet for info on volcanoes (the setting for the latest adventure) had come across Jack and Nim’s island.

Nim, excited to be in contact with her hero, also sees the potential for Alex to help her locate her dad (in addition to the volcano adventure). Confident of her hero’s abilities, she pleads with Alex to come to her aid, using latitude and longitude coordinates for directions.

Meet Alex Rover—that it, Alexandra Rover. What few people know is that Alex Rover the uber-masculine hero is an author’s creation—or perhaps, more precisely, an alter ego. The real Alex Rover (played by a Jodie Foster I have never seen) is agoraphobic, obsessive-compulsive, anxiety-ridden, and leaves her home no more often that every six weeks. She even begs the mail carrier to bring her mail to the door, in order to avoid taking the seven or so steps to the mailbox. Ultimately, she decides to help Abigail, and, desperately ignoring her neuroses, leaves for Nim’s Island.

Nim’s Island succeeds on multiple levels: the casting—namely a slenderer, more mature Breslin; a comically neurotic Foster (almost unrecognizable in her looseness); and Gerard Butler, who masterfully pulled off the double-role of Jack and Alex (the written character with whom the author has numerous conversations)—offers lively interaction and apparent chemistry among the lead actors. The setting provides plenty of eye candy—transparent turquoise waters, deep, lush greens, sandy beaches, and a home/science lab that blows Swiss Family Robinson out of the water.

The film is far from perfect; the greatest care was not taken in certain editorial aspects—those little details like continuity flaws, unrealistic events, and implausibilities that critics love to use to flex their egos. But this film isn’t about facts and evidence and details; rather, it subtly repeats a mantra-like theme: “You must be the hero of you own story.” And in that sense, those involved in the production of Nim’s Island succeeded.

Nim’s Island is rated PG for mild adventure action and brief language. I really don’t remember what language there might have been. But the action indeed keeps this from being purely G fare.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jenn attended a press screening of Nim’s Island.