Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Nim's Island

 
Review by Patrick Hodges
WARNING - This Review Contains Spoilers!
 
Most kids have that fantasy at some point in their childhood about living on a beautiful remote tropical island, where they can swing through the trees and have friendly animals as their best friends.  In this movie, we get to meet 11-year-old Nim Rusoe (played by the cute-as-a-bug’s-ear Abigail Breslin), who is living that fantasy.  She resides on a remote island in the South Pacific with her marine biologist father Jack (300’s Gerard Butler), where they have electricity, running water and an Internet hookup.  But she’s not lonely; her best friends are a sea lion, a lizard and a pelican, who apparently understand English and obey everything she says.  But there’s nothing she likes better than curling up with the latest rousing adventure story featuring Alex Rover.
 

Of course, “Alex Rover” doesn’t actually exist; he is just a character, created by one Alexandra Rover, an agoraphobic, germaphobic, pretty-much-everything-phobic author from San Francisco who hasn’t ventured outside her house in a very long time.  She gets all of her things delivered to her doorstep, and her only company is a figment of her imagination; Alex himself, the swashbuckling hero of her stories, decked out in full Indiana Jones regalia from head to toe (and also played by Gerard Butler).  She is behind on her latest book, and has sent several e-mails to Jack in order to gain inspiration.

But then, tragedy strikes when, during a scientific sojourn, Jack’s boat becomes disabled and he loses radio contact with Nim.  Isolated and alone, she has no one to turn to for help but “Alex”, whose actual gender and personality are unknown to her.  And then, in a completely unfathomable decision, Alexandra decides not only to leave her apartment, but trek halfway around the globe in an effort to “save” Nim.  And then the story goes downhill, very fast.

The second half of the film consists of three things; Jack trying desperately to repair his boat and fend off hungry sharks to try to get back to Nim; Alex realizing all of her worst fears about going outside, and complaining every step of they way, as she tries to reach Nim’s Island; and finally, Nim herself, who, one day after losing contact with Jack, is beset by a cruise ship full of Australian tourists.

The crew of this ship, you see, apparently passed by the island and decided that they could just claim it for themselves.  They don’t even take ten minutes to scout the island to see if (1) anyone, you know, LIVES THERE, or (2) it’s dangerous.  But instead of putting up a few well-placed “Private Property – Stay Away” signs, Nim resorts to a few Swiss Family Robinson-esque tricks to try to drive the “invaders” away, one of which seems to be far more dangerous than any actual threat posed by the annoying but completely unaware vacationers.  The one good scene, where Nim meets a boy her own age, is all too brief and quickly dismissed afterwards.

The three plot threads, involving Nim, Alex and Jack, don’t intertwine again until the very, very end, by which time the excitement has long since died down, and leaving me to wonder:  what was the point of any of it?  That Alex finally got to live an adventure she’d only written about?  That one little girl can be just as big a pain as a bunch of uninvited house guests?  That life on an island isn’t always a childhood fantasy?

If you can figure it out, well, you’re one up on me.

2 / 5 stars

 

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