MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Abigail Breslin as NIM RUSOE
Jodie Foster as ALEXANDRA ROVER
Gerard Butler as JACK RUSOE/ALEX ROVER
Directed by: Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
BY KEVIN CARR
This past spring, the girl-centric adventure tale “Nim’s Island” got lost a bit in the theaters. Produced by Fox/Walden, which recently gave us “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” this film tells the story of a young girl named Nim (Abigail Breslin) who lives on a tropical island with her dad Jack (Gerard Butler). When her father is lost at sea, Nim writes to her favorite author Alex Rover, to ask for help. What she doesn’t know is that the action star is really a reclusive author named Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), who writes fictional books.
This film is not for everyone. It will seem too juvenile for the older sect, but it works for the younger viewer. And even though the film has a definite girl focus, it’s not a girl-power movie featuring sisterhoods or traveling pants.
The real star of the film is Breslin, who overshadows Jodie Foster, a seasoned actor who appears too uncomfortable to really pull off her slapstick character. Star Gerard Butler shows his range with the dual role of Nim’s dad and the fictional character of Alex Rover. But it’s Breslin’s movie, and she has a chance to shine.
Recently, I had a chance to interview Abigail Breslin, and she is as charming and sweet in real life as she appears in movies and interviews. My only complaint from this angle (which comes across in the special features) is that she is so buffered in the behind-the-scenes footage that you don’t get to see the real girl as an actor. After meeting her publicist and seeing how other teen and pre-teen celebrities are left out to dry when they rebel, I understand the thinking.
However, in all the interviews behind the scenes, we’re told how brilliant, unstoppable and down-to-earth Abigail is. But it all seems set up in these features, and I look forward to the day when the girl can express herself on screen without every sound byte not scrutinized by publicists and studios.
The DVD comes with two commentaries – one with Foster and Breslin, and the other with the writers/directors. There’s also a spotlight on Nim’s animal friends, a spotlight on Breslin herself, a piece about working in the water, some nature-centric PSA, deleted scenes and trailers.
Usually, when I watch deleted scenes, I understand why they were left on the cutting room floor. However, one arc that was removed was how Nim had several imaginary friends on the island who come from books – Huck Finn and Alice from Wonderland to be exact. These characters provided a nice foil for Breslin, and I wish they would have been left in the film.
Even without the good deleted scenes, “Nim’s Island” is a nice choice for family movie night if you have kids who haven’t yet reached their teens.