“Nim’s Island” – Susan Granger reviews

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.