Nim's Island

Release Date: April 4, 2008

Movie of the Day for Friday, September 21, 2007
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That purse is bigger than she is.

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Position Staff In Brief
41/98 David Mumpower Amiable family film walks just the right balance between whimsical and therapeutic.

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So far this century, movies about “kids saving the day” have proven to be box office powerhouses, and it’s an even more lucrative bet when studios produce movies adapted from popular children’s literature (the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bridge to Terabithia). So it’s no surprise Fox Walden, the new banner that’s a joint venture between Fox and Walden Media, has begun production on Nim’s Island, an adaptation of Wendy Orr’s 2000 novel, tentatively planned for a spring 2008 release. Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, who both co-wrote the screenplay, will direct the film set to star Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler.

Given Walden Media’s high standards for family entertainment (along with Narnia and Terabithia, the company also produced last winter’s sleeper hit Charlotte’s Web), not to mention the studio’s positive critical reception, Nim’s Island should appeal to its target audience (the book is generally meant for eight-to-12 year olds) as well as parents looking for harmless yet imaginative entertainment.

The story centers on Nim, a grade-school girl who lives with her scientist father Jack on a tropical isle. Resourceful and adventurous, Nim is used to taking care of anything and everything, like charging her dad’s batteries and checking his e-mails with his laptop. She’s also outgoing and open-minded, suggested by her friendships with the isle’s marine iguanas, turtles and sea lions.

One day, Jack’s boat becomes disabled, leaving Nim to fend for herself. Her only link to the outside world comes from e-mailing Alexandra Rover, the author of the book Nim is currently reading. As she and Alex correspond, they teach each other different life lessons and ultimately work together to fend off evil tourists looking to inhabit the island.

The high-profile cast alone should be enough to entice moviegoers, including two-time Oscar-winner Foster, who’s always a safe bet when she plays a guardian-type (Panic Room, Flight Plan); Oscar nominee Breslin, fresh off of the critical and financial success of Little Miss Sunshine, though kids will most likely remember her from The Princess Diaries 2; and Gerard Butler, who starred in this year’s enormously successful 300. His role in that movie will have little influence on selling tickets for a family picture, but he’ll at least be given the chance to stretch his acting muscles.

There’s plenty of opportunity here for a rich family picture, with a strong female hero at its heart who becomes the manifestation of every child’s fantasy that kids can make a difference and save the day! Given the movie’s setting, there’s also promise of fresh and vivid cinematography. If Flackett and Levin can keep the adventure and energy levels up, and the patronizing of their young viewers down, Nim’s Island should prove to be delightful escapism for kids and adults alike. (Matthew Huntley/BOP)

Vital statistics for Nim's Island
Main Cast Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, Gerard Butler
Director Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Screenwriter Jennifer Flackett, Joseph Kwong
Distributor Twentieth Century Fox
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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