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  Nim's Island Breslin's big adventure
Year: 2008
Director: Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Stars: Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, Michael Carman, Mark Brady, Anthony Simcoe, Christopher Baker, Peter Callan, Rhonda Doyle, Russell Butler, Colin Gibson
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Feisty, courageous little Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives a kid’s dream life on a tropical island, along with her animal friends: Selkie the sea lion, Fred the lizard, and Galileo the pelican, and her scientist father, Jack (Gerard Butler). Having lost her mother at an early age, Nim draws inspiration from the fictional hero Alex Rover (also Butler), especially when a violent storm leaves her father lost at sea, and a motley crew of “buccaneers” invade the island. Nim sends an e-mail to Alex Rover appealing for help, little knowing the author is really Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), a frightfully timid agoraphobic who never leaves her apartment. Yet with a little girl in peril, Alexandra bravely embarks on a dangerous journey to reach Nim’s island, while Jack struggles to find his way home, and Nim fends off the intruders.

This rollicking children’s adventure is slightly hampered by its wayward narrative and weak climax, yet has plenty to keep youngsters entertained. Don’t be fooled by TV spots that show Nim duelling with pirates. Adventure fans may feel disappointed she faces nothing more hazardous than a boatload of bolshy tourists. However, Nim’s Island still offers thrills, spills and slapstick laughs, plus a wonderful lead in Abigail Breslin who is like bottled sunshine. More than a few kids will envy Nim’s carefree existence as they watch her climb trees, swing from vines and party with animals. All without ever going to school, since Nim learns everything from island life.

Serendipitous casting unites a current child prodigy with a former one. Most of the laughs come courtesy of Jodie Foster, who campaigned hard to land this rare, comedic role. Her jittery, nervous novelist is a lot of fun, especially when sparring with Gerard Butler’s dashing, imaginary adventurer (listen out for the moment she mimics his Scottish accent). Adapting a novel by Wendy Orr, writer-directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett opt for a three-way narrative that occasionally makes the film seem formless. Orr central theme that people can inspire bravery in each is somewhat undone by a climax that requires scant heroism on Nim or Alexandra’s part, and the nagging suspicion that Alexandra has traded one form of enclosure for another. Essentially, Nim’s Island is about a family being born anew, a story that warms the heart but doesn’t prove as deep as the filmmakers’ earlier Little Manhattan (2005).

Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett are clearly talents to watch. They maintain a high level of visual invention: drawings that come to life, characters re-imagined as wooden puppets, inspired animations that present the world as a giant storybook. Nim’s Island is full of such incidental pleasures. It’s slight, but like those sun drenched beaches and the heroine’s zest for adventure, hard to resist.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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