"Nim’s Island" is a wondrous and warmhearted adventure story with some nifty special effects and some first-rate performances. Abigail Breslin sparkles as11-year-old Nim, who lives on a remote South Pacific paradise with her father Jack, played by Gerard Butler. Mom is long gone, having succumbed to Children’s Movie Plot Disease. Some might question a father who keeps his daughter isolated from all human contact, but Nim loves her life and her animal friends. And she’s so independent her Dad sometimes leaves her alone while he goes on expeditions.
Nim’s other role model is the adventure hero Alex Rover, also played by Butler in fantasy sequences. But the real Alex Rover is an agoraphobic writer living in San Francisco. Through email correspondence Alex learns that Nim is alone, her father lost at sea. As she makes her way halfway across the world to Nim, the little girl prepares to do battle with a resort ship threatening to colonize the island.
"Nim’s Island" strikes just the right note between fantasy adventure and human drama. Nim’s animal friends can perform some cartoon-like feats, and of course there’s Butler playing both Nim’s dad and the Indiana Jones-like Alex Rover. But we also feel a real sense of jeopardy when Nim is left alone. And the scenes where she connects with the real Alex are touching and grounded in reality. The movie is rated PG but there’s no real sense of menace or violence, nothing to scare away children. Based on the children’s book by Wendy Orr, this is a solid and entertaining film, of particular interest if you have a daughter about Abigail Breslin’s age.