The family-friendly "Nim's Island" opened this weekend amongst the likes of the horror/thriller "The Ruins," and the romantic comedy "Leatherheads", though none of the three managed to unseat the number one draw, "21."
11-year-old Nim lives on an isolated island with her scientist dad Jack; they moved there after spending two years or more sailing the seas after mom disappeared (dad's tall tale was she was swallowed by a whale after the whale was frightened by the pirate ship The Buccaneer). Jack sets sail to look for a new plankton species, but Nim refuses so stay home with a mama turtle about to give birth. A storm at sea badly damages Jack's boat, and destroys his phone link to Nim.
Alexandra is the author of the popular adventure books featuring Alex Rover as the hero globetrotter; Alexandra herself is a borderline agoraphobic, afraid to leave her apartment. She emails Jack (as people tend to do), asking for info about volcanoes (the island has one, and he wrote a National Geographic article Alexandra read on the topic). Nim and Alexandra correspond in Jack's absence, but as Nim gets more worried about her dad being out of contact, she pleads with Alexandra to come help her.
The list of characters are all familiar faces these days; Nim Rusoe is played by Abigail Breslin (the laundry list of recent titles alone is lengthy), Jodie Foster as Alexandra Rover, and Gerard Butler does double duty as Jack and the fictional action hero Alex Rover.
The island is a bit reminiscent of "Swiss Family Robinson" with all the amenities of modern life, right down to all their power being provided by a few small solar panels, and superbly helpful animals acting as Nim's friends and playmates. For the film genre is works well enough, and I'm thinking that seal hasn't had much work since "50 First Dates," so it was probably good to get him/her a bit of screen time.
The film is based on Wendy Orr's book by the same title, and Orr has a hand in a number of children's books in the adventure stream of thought. This one has a charming balance of adventure, family, and happy endings that make it a winner as whole-family entertainment go.
The crowd I went with all enjoyed the film (elementary school to junior high, boys and girls mixed), so it's sure to please that crowd, and us over 18 crowd find it pleasant as well. (Even if I'm starting to get a wee bit over-exposed to Abigail, talented as she is, having a hand in all too many films of late.)