Review of Nim's Island

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Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler star in this family fantasy/adventure film based on Wendy Orr's novel. The main character is 12-year-old Nim (Breslin) who joins her scientist (Butler) father in visiting a South Pacific island. When her dad goes missing in a storm, she uses e-mail to request help from Alex Rover, the intrepid hero of an adventure novels she reads. Butler also portrays the literary character Alex Rover. When Nim's e-mail is received by Alexandra Rover (Foster), the author of the books, she travels to the island to see what she can do.
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Movie Review: Nim's Island

-- Rating: PG
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: April 4, 2008
Directed by: Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, and Family

"Nim's Island" is a children's adventure movie about a little girl who must survive on her own on a deserted island when her father is lost at sea. Starring Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, and Abigail Breslin, the movie is a star-studded fantasy that is certain to delight children and families.

"Nim's Island" opens on a little girl named Nim (Abigail Breslin), who lives on a remote island in the South Pacific with her father, Jack (Gerard Butler). Jack is a scientist who spends most of his time exploring the sea life around their island home, often leaving Nim to her own devices during his absences. One day, he decides to head out to sea for several days on a research trip, leaving Nim on her own in the safety of their island home.

When an unexpected storm prevents Jack from returning home on time, Nim must handle the island on her own. Although she is never in real danger, she must deal with unwanted tourists who land on her shores and figure out how to combat her fears. When she gets in over her head, Nim contacts her favorite author, Alex Rover, using the satellite-powered Internet connection her father installed on the island. Little does she know that Alex Rover is actually a woman named Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster) who is afraid to leave her home. Using computers, Nim and Alexandra communicate frequently, and their discussions help Nim get through her time alone. When Alexandra learns that Nim is all by herself, she makes an effort to get over her terror of the world in order to save her biggest fan. After a predictable but delightful happy ending, Nim is reunited with her father and her favorite author.

"Nim's Island" fills a noticeable gap in movies for young children, particularly little girls. While many popular female characters on television and in movies are obsessed with boys and beauty, Nim is interested in books and science. She doesn't worry about her appearance, but focuses more on her animal friends and her favorite book; for young female viewers who don't quite fit into mainstream culture, the movie will be a welcome change from typical cinematic fare. Nim is strong and confident, but she isn't afraid to ask for help when she needs it, and as a result, she is an excellent role model for girls and boys of all ages.

Abigail Breslin was the perfect casting choice for Nim. Breslin, who is known for her poise and self-possessed acting style, often plays characters who are old before their time. Nim is no different; without a mother, she was forced to grow up prematurely, and she relies less on her father than other children of the same age. Breslin gives a confident, nuanced performance that perfectly captures Nim's adventurous spirit and generous heart.

Gerard Butler is believable as Nim's distracted father Jack, but he is particularly entertaining in his secondary role as the imaginary Alex Rover in Nim's daydreams. Butler shines as the dashing, dramatic explorer, and viewers will enjoy seeing him perform swashbuckling feats in the jungle. The actor often plays more comical roles, but he slides neatly into the persona of the daring Rover.

Jodie Foster gives an equally unexpected and delightful performance as the reclusive Alexandra Rover. "Nim's Island" has the feeling of the family-friendly movies that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s-the type of films that launched Foster's career. The actress seems to enjoy the return to her roots, and gives an energetic and enjoyable performance as the neurotic shut-in. In the years leading up to "Nim's Island," most of Foster's roles were serious and highly emotional, in direct contrast to her performance as Alexandra Rover. Although she is a questionable choice as a love interest for Gerard Butler, Foster's strong chemistry with Breslin lights up the screen.

Most of "Nim's Island" was shot on location on the coast of Australia. Directors Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin made the most of the country's natural beauty, often indulging in long, stunning shots of the spectacular rugged coastline.

Overall, "Nim's Island" is an excellent choice for family viewing. With the exception of one or two tense sequences, the movie presents a positive message and a fascinating storyline. Though the actors don't have the chance to spend much time together onscreen, they each give a masterful performance that informs the overall plot. Parents will enjoy watching Foster and Butler, and children will relate to the excitement and terror of living alone on a deserted island. "Nim's Island" has something for everyone in the family and makes an ideal choice for a sleepover or a rainy evening in.

Rating: 3 out of 5