By Tom Huddleston
Nim (Abigail Breslin) is an 11-year-old girl living with her scientist father (Gerard Butler) on a remote island in the fictional South Asiatic Sea, and her only contact with the outside world is through email and a series of novels purportedly written by tough-guy adventurer, Alex Rover. So when Nim’s father is lost at sea, she naturally calls out to her hero for rescue. But the real Alex Rover is quite different: agoraphobic, clean-freak Alexandra (Jodie Foster) hasn’t left her San Francisco home in six years.
One could argue that the makers of ‘Nim’s Island’ are rather irresponsible: the island is a health and safety nightmare, crawling with wildlife and festooned with rickety rope bridges, vertiginous cliffs and even an active volcano. Nim’s supposedly perfect father has no reservations about leaving his pre-pubescent daughter alone for a few days while he goes off to study marine plankton, with only a farting sealion for companionship: the film’s debt to ‘Home Alone’ is evident, but this time the parental abandonment is entirely intentional.
Husband and wife writer-director team Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett were responsible for 2006’s winsome ‘Little Manhattan’, but their work here is far more muscular: solidly mainstream and surprisingly dark. For older viewers, the film is riddled with flaws: the story is pat, the ending laughable, and Jodie Foster’s attempts at physical comedy are cringeworthy at best. But for younger viewers this is a perfectly serviceable distraction, pacy and packed with incident, engagingly simplistic, with a winningly proactive heroine.
Director: Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Time Out rating: 3/6
Source: Time Out London Issue 1967: May 2 - 9, 2008