My quizzical three-year-old greets every new movie with an abundance of “whys,” but her mouth might run dry with that query were she confronted with Nim’s Island, an island adventure that proves a washout at everything it attempts. On a South Pacific island known only to herself and her marine biologist father, Jack (Gerard Butler), tweener Nim (Abigail Breslin) and her trusty sea lion and lizard friends are compelled—once Dad goes missing on an oceanic expedition—to protect her home from cruise-ship invaders with homemade tricks and traps that would make Home Alone‘s Kevin McCallister roll its eyes. Why Nim’s father (and, consequently, Nim herself) is terrified of being located is anyone’s guess, but as she mounts this resourceful defense, Nim also communicates via email with Alex Rover (Jodie Foster), whom she believes is the hero of her favorite books but, in fact, is merely the agoraphobic author of said novels. Addicted to Purell and Progresso soup, Alex habitually speaks to her fictional Indiana Jones-ish namesake (also Butler) and, after much scrunching up of her face, endeavors to come to the rescue of Nim. Crosscutting itself into arrhythmia, directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett’s film is, for the most part, narratively divided between Nim’s tepid self-reliance, Alex’s slapsticky buffoonery, and Jack’s interactions with an intelligent pelican aboard a sinking ship that’s clearly sitting in a studio water tank. Why, if Nim wants to find her dad, doesn’t she ask for the visiting cruise ship voyagers’ help? Why, if she writes bestselling adventure novels, is Alex such a bumbling, incompetent fraidy cat? And why did Foster and Butler not abandon, early on, a fanciful children’s project so acutely lacking in enchantment? Levin and Flackett’s vibrant pop-up book intro sequence promises fairy-tale charm, but the only wonder eventually elicited by Nim’s Island—a film in which people on a remote, anonymous island are somehow in possession of high-speed Internet service—is of a mystified variety.
- Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
- Joseph Kwong, Paula Mazur, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
- Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, Michael Carman
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