Nim's Island is the latest so-so effort from Walden Media. Like most of their films, it is based on a children's book, and like many of their films, it is directed by a first-time feature-film director—or, in this case, by two people who have never directed a feature film before. But lest you enter the theater with low expectations, the film is also graced with enthusiastic performances by actors who clearly enjoy being part of a story that teaches positive lessons—and a little enthusiasm can go a long way, even when it is not clear just where the story itself is going.
The part of Nim herself is played by the 11-year-old Abigail Breslin, who was last seen in Definitely Maybe as a young girl who asks her about-to-divorced dad to tell her a bedtime story about his love life. Nim, thankfully, is not so precocious, or at least not in that way; she has spent the bulk of her life with her dad on a remote island in the South Pacific, where she plays with various animals and "escapes" by reading the adventure novels of an Indiana Jones-like figure named Alex Rover.
When she reads these novels, Nim imagines that the dashing, heroic Alex Rover is a man just like her dad, Jack Rusoe (Gerard Butler)—except that where her dad is a marine biologist who hopes to discover a new form of nanoplankton and name it after his daughter, she imagines Alex Rover being a much more rugged, combative individual. To the film's credit, it allows Jack to be masculine in his own way; the fact that he spends much of his time looking at his one-celled specimens through a microscope does not make him a mild-mannered geek. He is, indeed, an inspirational figure to his daughter in his own way—so when Nim visualizes her father as Alex ...1
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