After her oceanographer mother is swallowed by a whale, Nim (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine) and her grieving scientist father Jack (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera) move to an uninhabited island in the South Pacific and create their own paradise. Jack dreams of discovering a new deep-sea plankton so he often goes off sailing by himself. Nim roams the island at will with her friends–a seal, a lizard and a pelican. No one’s ever told Nim she couldn’t do anything, so she’s become strong, clever, confident and fearless. She can climb a dormant volcano, whip up a delicious dinner of native grubs, swim in the crashing surf, and fix the generator that runs their computers. She’s as super-capable as any boy would be in the same circumstances. Nim’s imagination, already boundless, is whetted each time the supply ship drops off the latest copy of her favorite reading–the heart-thumping tales of heroic he-man adventurer, Alex Rover.
Half a world away, in a luxurious New York City apartment, lives a stressed out agoraphobic female, Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster, The Brave One), who, my oh my, is the author of the adventure tales Nim loves so much. Poor Alexandra. She’s so terrified of everything, she can only get through the day with the imaginary help of her fictional hero (also played by Gerard Butler, who’s totally hot in his Indiana Jones getup). In a rare comedic turn, Foster makes the jittery neurotic writer both hilarious and sympathetic–a difficult balancing act that proves how immensely talented she is. When a violent storm leaves Nim alone on the island and her father lost at sea, Alexandra throws her numerous fears to the winds (sort of) and sets out on a nearly impossible rescue attempt.
The movie, based closely on the children’s book by Wendy Orr, is a rousing adventure tale, shot in glorious Australian locations, with elements of make-believe. It was a risky creative mix and not all critics appreciated it. I loved the movie’s resulting quirkiness and the kids I saw it with did, too. Particularly for young girls and their supportive parents, Nim’s Island is an entertaining, empowering film–don’t miss it.