Nim’s Island (2008)

Nim’s Island (2008)
This family comedy starring Jodie Foster is a delightful surprise in an era when even family movies have to be viewed with caution. Nim’s Island is a charming fairy tale for all ages, that works on different levels of comprehension, and leaves older viewers with something to reflect on, while younger viewers can enjoy the laughter and excitement.

Jodie Foster, who knows a thing or two about being a child star, works very well with one of the newest child stars. Abigail Breslin, in this fable about a reclusive writer and a girl called Nim who lives on an island in the South Pacific. Foster is the writer, Alexandra Rover, whose literary creation, Alex Rover, is everything she is not – adventurous, bold, reckless and male. Alexandra is an agoraphobic New Yorker who never sets foot outside her apartment.

Gorgeous British actor Gerard Butler plays the dual roles of Alex Rover and Nim’s father. As Alex, he is a figment of Alexandra’s imagination, but as Jack Rusoe (get it?) he is a real live hero to his daughter, a resourceful and inventive man of the kind best summed up by Anne Hesch in Six Days Seven Nights as “one of those guys – you send them out into the wilderness with a pocket knife and a Q-tip and they build you a shopping mall.”

Jack sails off in search of plankton, leaving Nim to guard the island and mind the animals (she’s only 11, but this is a fairy tale) and she strikes up an email friendship with the author of her favourite books – Alexandra Rover. When Alexandra learns that Nim is alone on the island, and has been injured investigating a volcano, she determines to overcome her agoraphobia (and other phobias) and venture out into the world to rescue her email pen pal.

Alexandra is accompanied by her wise cracking Scottish muse – (Alex Rover himself) as she sets out on her trouble prone journey – the scene where she wrestles with Alex to avoid getting into the taxi, while the taxi driver watches in bewilderment as she struggles with someone he can’t see, is priceless. Similarly, Nim’s reaction to a crowd of overweight tourists invading her island paradise is also amusing.

What makes Nim’s Island a cut above many other family movies is that it has real warmth and heart, without profanity or innuendo, and delivered by actors who are mindful of the responsibility. Some parents may have qualms about a movie that depicts a young girl left alone on an island by her father, but it is, after all, a fable, and is beautifully told.

Is it Nim’s story of how she reclaims something valuable she has lost to the sea, Alexandra’s story of finding herself again, or Jack’s story of surviving incredible odds to be with his family – or even Alex Rover’s story of helping his creator to become whole again? It is all of these levels of complexity, making this one of the most unusual and enchanting family movies for a long time.

I purchased this movie with my own funds.

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