Written by Hombre Divertido
Take the Disney classic Swiss Family Robinson, throw in the family classic Home Alone, add a little of the under-appreciated Stranger Than Fiction and a sprinkle of Raiders of the Lost Ark and you have Nim’s Island. Though this project warrants the reference to the four films mentioned, it doesn’t quite manage to deliver the same level of entertainment.
Though it comes close, it seems a bit too unsure of itself, and there is a general lack of commitment by the writing teams of Joseph Kwong & Paula Mazur and directors Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin to one aspect of this multi-layered endeavor. Had they simply been willing to truly invest in each storyline, and provide a well-rounded 120-minute motion picture, the result could have easily been a family classic. Though the film contains numerous enjoyable aspects, it is too heavy-handed in its delivery, and the performances are a huge disappointment.
Where it does succeed is in its ability to channel some of the classic episodes of The Wonderful World of Disney. Had the writers focused more on Nim (Abigail Breslin) and her adventures on the tropical island where she lives with her microbiologist father, and the Home Alone scenario of fending off invaders with the help of her animal friends, the movie would had been simply more enjoyable. Though the addition of Nim’s contact with her favorite author (Jodie Foster) who she believes is an Indiana Jones-esque hero, brings about some pleasant fantasy scenes that are well crafted, it tends to draw away from what the audience wants to see.
Jodie Foster has not made a comedy since Maverick, and not a good one since Freaky Friday, and there must be a reason for that. As an agoraphobic author who decides to travel around the world to save a circumstantially abandoned Nim, Foster is in way over her head. The comedic chops of Helen Hunt, Tina Fey, or Joan Cusack would have been far better suited for this project. Breslin also seems a bit out of her element in this role, as she seems too emotionally inconsistent to endear her to most audiences.
Based on the novel by Wendy Orr, Walden Media has created another beautiful film to look at, with great special effects, but even those elements are not enough to hold the audiences attention for the 94-minute jaunt that does not really go anywhere you don’t see coming.
Recommendation: If you have children, take them to this on a Saturday afternoon for some safe, predictable, and somewhat satisfying entertainment. Or just pick up a copy of Swiss Family Robinson and head home for a far more enjoyable entertainment experience.