Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews




picture - Nim's IslandMovie Review

by Kevin Bowen

published April 4, 2008


Nim’s Island

rated G

now playing nationwide


Well, this is a tale of our castaways. Is Nim’s Island, the latest Walden Media children's release, sure to get a smile?  


To be accurate, Nim (Abigail Breslin) isn’t a castaway. She lives on a remote volcanic island with her father (Gerard Butler), a marine biologist. They moved there after her mother was swallowed by a whale, apparently quite the occupational hazard for a marine biologist. Presumably cashing the whale-swallowing insurance, father and daughter move  to the distant South Pacific. Nim lives there blissfully with the friendly island animals. Her main contact with outside reality seems to be adventure books and Talking Heads albums.


Her favorite books are those with an Aussie adventurer named Alex Rover. While little Nim cartwheels on the beach and talks to sea shells, the author, Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), is locked in her San Francisco apartment struggling with the ending of the latest Alex Rover book. Being locked in is not a worry. She does that all the time. The sweetly agoraphobic writer bolts herself into her apartment, behind the safety of her hand sanitizer. She lives her outside life solely through her fictional character, with whom she occasionally engages in Hamlet-like conversations. Yeah, I know. Batshit.


picture - Nim's IslandNeeding research for her ending, Alexandra Rover emails Nim’s father. It turns out to be the perfect time to strike up a conversation, seeing as Nim’s father is lost at sea, and the little girl, without a mother, is left to fend for herself on the island. Talking to her imaginary character the whole way, Alexandra Rover ventures outdoors for the first time, to journey across the sea to save Nim.


You see where this is going, don’t you? Watching the inevitable pairing of the father and the writer left me with this question: Suppose your wife is swallowed by a whale; yet she continues to live in the whale’s stomach. I’m no expert in maritime law, but technically, in the eyes of God, aren’t you still married? Just like Hollywood, trying to undermine the values of America’s children. Trying to push bigamy on our kids.


In her film work since capturing America’s heart with Little Miss Sunshine, Breslin has shown skilled comic timing for such a young girl. However, she has developed the disturbing habit of trying to grin her way through roles. I can only imagine the directorial instructions she receives – “Run. Stop. Grin. Great!” Over and over and over. Foster gets to have some motherly  fun as the mentally and physically shaky author. I’m sure her children will enjoy it. Yet it’s sad that Hollywood too often feels mothering roles are the best use of her talent.


I wish there were more to say about this adaptation of Wendy Orr’s children’s novel. I have no strong feelings about it whatsoever. I couldn’t summon the energy to find anything too right or wrong with it. Harmless, painless, and a little drowsy. As for your kids, it shouldn’t hurt them, bite them, skin their knee, cause a rash, or keep them from eating their vegetables. It might encourage them to marry two women at the same time. If you're fond of the idea of extra grandchildren, my filmgoing advice is ….. eh, whatever.   


kevinbowen @



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