Children’s movies normally aren’t my thing. I’m not a kid (although some people might disagree), I don’t have any kids, I don’t hang out with any kids, so the movies aren’t marketed towards me. I hold no disdain towards kids movies, but normally the films I watch demand more from me as a viewer.
Nim’s Island came out on DVD yesterday, and I had the opportunity to watch it instead of work. Which I did. In all honesty, I was glad I took the opportunity to do so.
Nim’s Island is about Nim and Alexandra. Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives on a volcanic island in the South Pacific with her father, marine biologist (and occasional contributor to National Geographic) Jack Rusoe (Gerard Butler). Jack homeschools her, and she pals around with a sea lion named Selkie, the pelican Galileo, and a marine iguana she dubbed Fred. Jack goes away for a couple days to gather plankton from a nearby atoll, leaving Nim behind to help a sea turtle lay eggs and to read a new adventure novel. They talk by satellite phone for the first day, but a storm damages Jack’s boat and breaks the phone.
On the other side of the world, in San Francisco, agoraphobic adventure writer Alexandra Rover (Jodie) is having one heck of a block. She writes a series of books featuring an Indiana Jones-esque character named, oddly enough, Alex Rover (also played by Gerard Butler). She’s written herself into a corner, giving Alex over to a volcanic sacrifice, with no way to get him out. After discussing the matter with the version of Alex that lives in her head (Butler), Alexandra searches for information about volcanoes and comes across one of Jack’s National Geographic pieces about living on a volcanic island. She sends Jack an e-mail (signed Alex, not Alexandra), Nim answers (thinking that Alex Rover is the action hero, not the author), and the story is off.
I’m not going to spoil the rest of the movie, but needless to say it’s a lot of fun. No real scary bits, and the story clips along at a nice pace. A couple times Alexandra vomits (motion sickness) but it’s offscreen. There’s a lot here for the kids, but a few scenes (particularly one in an airport) that the parents/adults can relate to. The acting is good; Breslin in particular shines in some scenes. Jodie Foster is great, giving us the impression that she really is an agoraphobe, and overcoming her illness feels like a real process rather than a switch being flipped. Butler is less impressive, better as the fictional action hero than intrepid scientist.
The plot’s pretty simplistic, but I wasn’t expecting much. There’s no underlying political message here, just a good story about self-sacrifice and heroism. A great fart joke, as well. At around 90 minutes, it’s probably the perfect length for a children’s movie. If you’re looking for a movie with a convoluted plot and intense character drama, this ain’t it. This is a fun, easy movie to digest for both kids and adults.