This is a children’s fantasy and, as such, it works rather well. But if you’re hankering for adult adventure, look elsewhere.
On a remote volcanic paradise somewhere in the South Pacific, resourceful 11 year-old Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives an idyllic existence with her scientist/writer father, Jack (Gerard Butler) and her playful friends: Selkie the sea lion, Galileo the pelican and Fred the tiny bearded dragon. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, however, once a month, a supply boat delivers the ‘essentials,’ like the latest novel by Nim’s favorite explorer hero, Alex Rover.
Meanwhile, cloistered in a flat in San Francisco, agoraphobic writer Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster) is desperately trying to extricate her fictional alter-ego from a sticky ‘volcanic’ situation. When she reads Jack’s article on volcanoes in the National Geographic and e-mails him for more information, it’s Nim who answers on the Internet. So when Jack disappears at sea and tourists from a cruise ship invade their island for a luau, Nim’s only recourse is to summon Alex Rover for help.
Over-written and awkwardly directed – with Nim chatting up the animals, Jack fighting the elements, and Alexandra talking to her computer – by the husband-and-wife team of Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, along with producer Paula Mazur and Joseph Kwong, it’s based on Wendy Orr’s novel.
Plucky Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) strikes just the right notes, ‘becoming the heroine of her own life,’ as does Jodie Foster, handling pratfalls with her usual aplomb. While Gerard Butler (“300”) seems a bit out of his element in as the paternal Jack, he succeeds as fictional persona of intrepid Alex Rover. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nim’s Island” is a family-friendly 6, complete with flying lizards and a flatulent sea lion.