Nim’s Island (2008)

Rated: PG for mild adventure action and brief language.
Length: 95 minutes
Grade: DBCD=D
Budget: $37 million
Box Office: $87 million ($48 U.S., $39 Intl.)

Written by: Wendy Orr wrote the children’s book by the same title on which this movie is based.
Directed by: Jennifer Flacket (this is her first movie) and Mark Levin, who previously made the charming Little Manhattan.
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, and Gerard Butler.

Nim’s dad is a marine microbiologist who searches for new lifeforms near the volcanic desert island they call home. He gets stranded in a storm after leaving Nim alone for a few days, and she seeks the help of the author of her favorite adventure stories, who turns out to be as unadventurous as an agoraphobe can be. Also, there are Australian cruise ship/pirates trying to invade her pristine beach.

Entertainment Value: D
Chaos. Pure chaos. This movie was a constant stream of unbelievable, implausible, ridiculous nonsense. So I figure most 6 year olds were tragically bewitched by it. This wasn’t just Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang nonsense, it was bizarre, dangerous, mayhem nonsense. I’m figuring that the book was far more substantial than this movie, which I strongly disrecommend. Nonetheless, I really like Gerard Butler, who so far has suffered the plague of being cast in worthless movies like this one and P.S. I Love You.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B, Language B+, Illegality B
There are a couple of mild language elements including yet another inexplicable character in a child’s movie saying, “What the…?” without finishing off the sentence. But the real issues here are violence, which mostly involve flirting with volcanoes, attacking beachgoers with catapulted lizards, an opening story about a mother being swallowed by a whale, one fistfight, and (the most serious) a life threatening storm that destroys Nim’s father’s boat.
Significant Content: C
The intended theme here is fear and courage, with the idea being that if you’ll only confront your fears, everything will be okay. I also have to give the movie credit for showing a capable, responsible young girl taking care of herself. What bothered me was the idea of a dad leaving his young daughter on the island by herself and then constantly seeing his life threatened at sea. Apparently cruise lines are evil defilers of natural beauty. Otherwise, the movie seems to be fairly lesson-free. Also, why is this girl able to contact the author but they don’t have a safety/emergency system in place with other people?

Artistic/Thought Value: D
Like I’ve already said: chaos. I really didn’t like this movie pretty much the whole way through. One interesting elements here were the idea that authors may well be precisely the opposite of the characters they invent, perhaps invented specifically to make up for their own personal deficiencies. The other is that every girl reads her father into the role of hero in her novels.

Discussion Questions:
~What do you think of the father’s decision to leave his daughter on the island?
~Does it seem likely that a writer could be so completely the opposite of a best-selling adventure series? Do you think that other genres, such as romance novels, are made by people who know what they’re writing about or not?
~What does it mean to be the hero of your own life story?
~What is the difference between healthy fears and unhealthy ones?
~What is courage? What’s the difference between courage and stupidity? Which one is a better description of Foster’s trip around the world?
~Is it important for girls to view their fathers as dashing heroes?
~“Sometimes the best way to help is just to be there when someone needs you.” What do you think of this idea?
~What do you think of Nim’s reaction to the cruise crew and vacationers? Why is she entitled to the island but they aren’t?

Overall Grade: D
The real title here should have been Home Alone 4: South Pacific. This is by far Walden Media’s worst effort so far.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I thoughly enjoyed the Nims Island. It is a movie, not real life. If you grade a movie on what real life is 99 out of 100 movies would not make your list. However, when reviewers and critics don't like a movie I know I will more than likely love it.
I also loved "P.S.I Love You". Gerard Butler was hysterical in it.

Andrew Tallman said...

I'm so excited to see people posting their thoughts on the movies. I definitely agree that Gerard Butler is entertaining.