While in our local Blockbuster® the other day, we spotted Nim’s Island among the recent releases. Since we both had liked the previews (which featured an out-of-character Jodie Foster and a rough-n-tumble cowboy-ish version of Gerard Butler), we had both wanted to see the film, but never got around to it.
We immediately picked up the rental. Would the previews be just the tip of the iceberg for the fun hidden in Nim’s Island – or would the feature-length version pale in comparison to the 3-minute trailer?
Abigail Breslin is decent enough as main character Nim, but definitely could not have pulled off the movie on her own. Even her lonely-girl-on-an-island sequences feature scene-stealing performances by her various animal companions. She’s decent enough, but hasn’t yet quite managed to find a way to completely ensnare the viewers – maybe she’ll learn something from her animal pals for the next go-round.
Jodie Foster, on the other hand, is a complete delight in her role as an incredibly secluded author. Having gotten around her fears by creating a swashbuckling hero, she is living her life vicariously through her character – all without having to leave the comfortable confines of her home or causing her to forgo her daily luncheon of Progresso® soup.
Reasearching her new book, she begins inadvertently communicating via email with Nim, a little girl, completely alone on a secluded island, whose father has disappeared at sea. Overcome at the girl’s plight, this very non-worldly author suddenly must conquer her fears to reach this little-known island and do what she can for the lonely little Nim.
Whether she’s washing her hands incessantly (thanks to her germ phobia) or trying to dredge up the courage to walk outside and get her mail, Jodie Foster brings a hilarity to her character viewers haven’t witnessed from her in a long time.
Ever since her incredible performance in The Silence Of The Lambs, Foster has mainly stuck with action/adventure thrillers (, , etc.). While she has been decent in those roles, seeing her as this completely opposite role as a crazily neurotic shut-in is a breath of fresh air that viewers didn’t even know they needed from her.
Toss in her squabbles with her imaginary incarnation of her hero (played almost as a good-natured spoof of his recent “action hero” status by Gerard Butler), and viewers won’t be able to get enough of her in Nim’s Island.
Then there’s the animals themselves. Throughout the film, viewers will constantly wonder whether the animals surrounding Nim are exceptionally well-trained or near-perfect computer imitations. Either way, this says a lot for how seamlessly the film ties it’s computer-generated effects with it’s real world people, making the film a visual treat as well.
While the ending does tend to lean toward the generic, Nim’s Island – with it’s visual beauty, seamless computer effects and a hilariously funny (and extremely welcome) performance by Jodie Foster – is one of the best live-action family films we’ve seen in quite some time.
This is one live-action families film that families will actually enjoy sititng down and watching together – even maybe more than once or twice.
With films like Nim’s Island, there seems to be hope left, thankfully, for the live-action family film – despite the myriad of dull and unoriginal films in the genre that viewers have been innundated with over the past few years.