Last year brought us Bridge to Terabithia, with AnnaSophia Robb as a spunky, imaginative, resourceful little girl who loved to play in the great outdoors. Without giving too much of that film’s plot away, suffice it to say, things did not end well for little AnnaSophia.
So it’s with great pleasure that I report that no such dark fate awaits Abigail Breslin’s casually rough and tumble Nim, who lives with her oceanographer Dad (Gerard Butler)—along with her pet seal, iguana, and pelican—on a remote island in the South Pacific. Unlike Pippi Longstocking (one of my childhood heroes), there’s no big deal made of the fact that Nim is a girl. She’s just a barefoot, sun-dappled kid who likes to climb volcanoes and cavort with lizards. When her father gets lost at sea, she manages to live on her own and stave off a group of unwelcome tourists. What a tween!
It’s while Dad is at sea that Nim receives an email from her favorite adventure novelist Alex Rover (Jodie Foster, diving into a comedic role with gusto.) Not only does Nim not realize that Alex is actually Alexandria, she assumes the writer is every bit as fearless and daring as the eponymous hero. So she sends out an S.O.S. and—despite the fact that Rover is an agoraphobic, who can’t even venture to her own mailbox—the author recognizes a child in distress and sets out to Nim’s Island to save her.
Will Nim’s father return? Will Alexandria Rover prove to be as resourceful as her imaginary hero? Will Nim be able to deter the unwanted tourists? Will Alexandria and Nim’s dad, you know, get along?
Well, duh. There’s nothing even remotely unexpected that occurs in this film, but it is lots of fun for the whole family, and young Nim emerges as a great role model for girls. Just don’t be surprised when your daughter suddenly wants a pet iguana.