I had high hopes for Nim’s Island. Jodie Foster in a comedic role? Her acting in Freaky Friday is still way better than any of the versions that came after (sorry, Lohan, you don’t mess with the Foster). Years of doing serious roles in films like Flightplan, The Accused, The Brave One, Silence of the Lambs – how refreshing would it be to see Foster act silly and make the audience laugh again like she did as a child actress? Based on a popular children’s novel of the same name, I was ready for a great movie ride with an oversized tub of popcorn and a soda no single person should drink alone, but alas I was sadly disappointed.
Foster is Alex(andra) Rover, a famous but agoraphobic adventure writer whose main character, the aptly named Alex Rover (Gerard Butler) – an Indiana Jones-type hero – travels the world seeking mischief and mayhem. She, on the other hand, has panic attacks just trying to open the door and walk the 10 feet outside to pick up her mail.
Rover is stuck on her current manuscript with an editor named Buffy breathing down her neck to meet her deadlines. As she does research on volcanoes on the Internet, she emails marine biologist Jack Rusoe (also played by Gerard Butler), whose National Geographic article on volcanoes has piqued her interest. Unbeknownst to her, it is Jack’s daughter, Nim (Abigail Breslin) who answers. Rover finds out that Nim is all alone on the island. Her father has gone out to sea on an expedition to discover a new form of plankton. Only supposed to be gone for two days, Nim fears that her father has been lost at sea.
Fearing for Nim’s safety, Rover tries everything short of going to the island herself to make sure Nim is okay. When her only option really is to go to the island herself, she reluctantly goes, egged on by the imaginary incarnation of her novels.
While the film is cute and totally family fare, I wished for more of a story, even more scenes with cringe-worthy fish-out-of-water moments for the super germaphobic writer. The scenes with Foster in the airport were really just the tip of the iceberg for some potentially hysterical moments.
Like a kiddie version of Romancing the Stone, it would have been nice to see a few more storybook scenes with the Indiana Jones-Alex Rover played by Gerard Butler also. Some gratuitous shirtless scenes featuring Butler would have been nice eye candy for the female adults in the audience! Because, come on, let’s be honest – I didn’t pay $9.50 to see Abigail Breslin play with a sea lion, though Breslin is proving to be a far better actress than Dakota Fanning.
Nim’s Island will be a cute DVD rental, but save those dollars and movie passes for the big summer blockbusters.
Nim's Island artwork courtesy of Walden Media/20th Century Fox
Gerard Butler Photo: (c) Reuters