Nim’s Island on DVD

Nim’s Island on DVD. Perhaps as I inch inevitably closer to my AARP membership, I should give up on children’s movies. The ones I’ve seen over the last year have either been quite disappointing (The Golden Compass and Mr. Magorium) or merely average (Enchanted and Nancy Drew). Nim’s Island falls somewhere in between. Abigail Breslin plays an 11-year-old girl living an idyllic life with her marine biologist father (Gerard Butler) on a tiny island in the South Pacific, playing with and learning from her animal friends. She also loves to read the adventure tales of the macho Alex Rover, who is really the fantasy alter ego of author Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), an agoraphobic, Monk-like character. When a storm causes her to lose the satellite phone connection with her father at sea, Nim contacts Rover via email and asks for her/his help. Alexandra has to overcome her fears to reach the island while at the same time, Nim attempts to keep a cruise ship line from overrunning her beaches with ill-behaved Australian tourists and the father tries to fix his damaged boat and return to the island.

I liked the parallel stories of two women living in isolated worlds of their own choosing and also the director’s message that one needs to be courageous, see the world and learn from nature. However, the pacing of the movie was way off: solving the dangers that each member of the trio faced took so long that I got a bit bored and the inevitable happy ending came a bit abruptly. I also could not suspend my beliefs enough to understand how an experienced National Geographic-published writer would leave his 11-year-old daughter alone on an island and not teach her emergency procedures for the satellite phone and internet connection to contact someone a bit closer geographically than the San Francisco-based Rover. Breslin’s performance was good, good enough that, despite my reservations, I’ll venture back into kid’s movies to watch her next project, Kit Kittredge. In the end, children, especially young girls, will like this film, but adults won’t get much out of it.

The three bonus features describe the animal actors used in the film, the casting and training of Breslin as the lead character, and the extensive filming done on top of and under water. I don’t usually rewatch films to get actor’s or director’s commentary, but I did try about ten minutes of the commentary by Breslin and Foster and found it interesting to hear Foster, a former child star herself, and Breslin discussing how their experiences compared and contrasted.

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