Nim Calls in Foster Care
Regular readers will know I am not one for book reading so when I say that I had never even heard of Wendy Orr's children novel before watching "Nim's Island" it shouldn't be a surprise, especially when we are talking a children's story. But I can imagine that those young children who read it probably love it because what comes across in the movie is some wonderful, imaginative escapism. The thing is that I don't think the screen adaptation has done Orr's book credit because there is something which is missing, something which makes it a truly magical adventure which gets audiences gripped by some family friendly action, adventure and comedy. In fact I would even say that elements which connect the 3 stories, because that is basically what "Nim's Island" is, are missing and it makes it a little disjointed.
Nim (Abigail Breslin - Definitely, Maybe) and her father Jack Rusoe (Gerard Butler - P.S. I Love You) live on a secret island where he studies marine biology and Nim plays with the animals and reads her favourite adventure novels, the Alex Rover stories which arrive on a supply ship. It these books which fuel Nim's mind as she fanticizes all about Alex's adventures, escaping death completely unaware that Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster - The Brave One) the author is a complete agoraphobic who doesn't leave her home and is afraid of germs. When Jack goes off on a research trip he leaves Nim to her own devices but things take a turn for the worse when not only does a storm cause damage to Jack's boat but a group of holidaymakers arrive on the island from a cruise ship. Alone and afraid Nim must scare off the unwelcome guests and having sent Alex Rover an email hopes her hero will show up, unaware that the agoraphobic Alexandra is trying to summon up the coverage to answer her cries of help.
The way "Nim's Island" starts reminded me of Disney's "Swiis Family Robinson", not in that we have a family stranded because here we have Nim and her father Jack already living on an island, but the way they live. It is wonderfully imaginative as we have a mix of the old and new so they have a computer on the Island but then Nim gets around the island on zip lines and has animals such as a pelican and a lizard as friends. We also have the beautiful simplicity of life on the island and the comically cringy diet which includes meal worms. It is old fashioned fun mixed with modern elements and it works for both young and old alike.
But the thing is that once "Nim's Island" has set up the situation where we have Nim alone on the island, Jack stranded on his storm battered boat and writer Alexandra Rover stuck in her home afraid to leave but doing so to answer Nim's cries of help, well emails, it becomes a little disjointed. We basically get 3 adventures as Jack tries to battle home, Nim goes a little "Home Alone" to defend the island from holiday makers and agoraphobic Alexandra trying to make it to the island to help Nim. Each of these storylines is fun although to be honest Nim defending the island is a bit too obvious but it becomes very disjointed as you go from one to another. That little bit of magic needed to connect these stories and make them come alive is lacking, probably left out to keep the running length down.
And it is a shame as both Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster give good performances. Breslin whilst having to protect the island with various home made weapons at least doesn't do so in a hysterical manner in fact this she plays Nim with a pleasant restraint through out the entire movie which makes her instantly likeable. But it is Foster which really impresses because this is Foster doing full on comedy, being stupid, being over the top and it works, it partly works because you don't see Foster doing this sort of comedy very often but she should do more as she sells every stupid gag perfectly. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Gerard Butler who it has to be said not only has the weaker characters but also the weaker storyline.
What this all boils down to is that "Nim's Island" is a fun, family friendly movie which does it's best to appeal to all ages with some "Home Alone" style comedy to a wonderful comedy performance from Jodie Foster. But it does end up a very disconnected movie, 3 adventures which end up feeling isolated from each other, which sadly spoils things.