Friday, January 24, 2014

Nim's Island (2008) [PG] ***

Nim Rusoe (Abigail Breslin) and her biologist father Jack Rusoe (Gerard Butler) live on a remote volcanic island in the South Pacific. There's just the two of them since Nim's oceanographer mother was swallowed by a blue whale when Nim was just a baby. Jack and Nim lead an idyllic life on their island; it feels like paradise thanks to solar panels, satellite phones, the internet and a weekly ship that brings supplies and adventure books written by Alex Rover, Nim's favorite author. Nim even has a trio of animal and bird friends with whom she talks. [Note how closely Nim and Jack’s last name, Rusoe, is to the last name of the classic island castaway Robinson Crusoe.]

By sheer coincidence, Alex Rover reads a National Geographic article about the island volcano, written by Jack, and emails Jack for more information on the volcano. But when Nim is injured climbing to the summit on a reconnaissance mission, Alex feels responsible. And when Nim emails Alex that Jack is overdue back from an open-ocean research trip, Alex decides to come to Nim's aid. Little does Nim know that Alex Rover is not a rugged male explorer (Gerard Butler plays Alex in Nim’s fantasy), but instead is a timid, agoraphobic female writer (played by Jodie Foster), for whom venturing outside her front door is nearly impossible.

While the cinematography is beautiful, the simply plotted, derivative screenplay telegraphs the entire story within the first five minutes. And while the audience is led to believe that Jack and Alex will find romance on the island, and live happily ever after as Nim's parents, it is simply an impossible stretch of the imagination to picture these two very different people together. Featuring consistently overacted performances by all three leads, this film might be described as Swiss Family Robinson meets Fly Away Home. It is clearly designed to appeal to 8-to-10 year old girls and their mothers. Viewers seeking adult tropical island adventure fare will find far more satisfaction in Six Days, Seven Nights (comedy) or Cast Away (drama). 

Labels: adventure, comedy, family
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 55/100
Tomatometer (critics=51, viewers=46)

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