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Movie Review

Nim’s Island a.k.a. “L’ Île de Nim,” “Alla ricerca dell'isola di Nim,” “Die Insel der Abenteuer”

MPAA Rating: PG for mild adventure action and brief language

Reviewed by: Angela Bowman

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Kids
Fantasy, Adventure, Family, Comedy
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 4, 2008 (wide—3,400 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox-Walden
Fear and Anxiety

Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
The Rainforest: People, Animals and Facts
Learn about the rainforest by meeting some native peoples, seeing where and how they live, and more! A cross-cultural photo-rich journey that will leave you with a lasting impression.

Animals in the Bible

Family Answers HOME page
Featuring: Abigail Breslin
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Signs,” “Definitely, Maybe

Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, Morgan Griffin, Alphonso McAuley, Jay Laga'aia, Christopher Baker, Peter Callan, Sean Keenan, Rhonda Doyle, Michael Carman, Maddison Joyce
Director: Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Producer: Alan Edward Bell, Stephen Jones, Paula Mazur
Distributor: Fox-Walden

“Be the hero of your own story.”

This film is based on the book by Wendy Orr and Kerry Millard.

“Nim's Island” is almost a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson, with a deserted island, animals, “pirates,” and a modern tree house, complete with electricity running from solar panels and satellite communication.

Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives on this unknown island in the Asiatic Sea with her scientist father, Jack Rusoe (Gerard Butler). While her father is away on an expedition, Nim finds that Alex Rover, the author of her favorite action-adventure stories, has written to her father for consultation on subject matter for her next book. Nim decides to help her beloved author, placing herself in danger, and at the same time her father goes missing, leaving her alone, afraid and injured.

Nim turns to her hero for help, and feeling responsible, the author agrees to come to her assistance. However, unknown to Nim, this author is not Alex Rover (also played by Gerard Butler), the hero of her stories. Alex Rover is in fact Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), author and phobic recluse, completely opposite of the hero of her stories, afraid to venture out her own front door.

As we follow Alexandra on her journey into the world, challenged with real life adventure in the midst of her terror and driven and determined by her concern for Nim, Nim stumbles upon invaders who threaten her family's secluded life and must find a way to preserve and protect her home, and her father is lost at sea, desperately trying to find his way back to his daughter.

“Courage is not just in you, it is in every choice that you make each day.” The central theme of the movie is courage. Each of the main characters has obstacles to overcome and eventually have to find the courage to stand out on his or her own to overcome the situations faced.

This brings a great opportunity to point out that this message can be found throughout the Bible. Just one example is Deuteronomy chapter 31. Multiple times His message is to “be strong and courageous.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 tells us to…

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

While neither God or any kind of Christian belief was actually referenced (other than one man saying a particular place was God-forsaken), there was one scene in which it appeared that a very paranoid and frightened Alexandra was praying, however that could be argued as it was not completely clear as to whom she was talking (or praying) to.

For those who struggle with fear, whether as severe as Alexandra's or not, we have reassurance in 2 Timothy chapter 1 that God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Unfortunately, there was some objectionable content, although by today's standards, it was mostly minor. The most offensive were a reference to “Mother Nature” made by Jack Rusoe and the hero Alex Rover says “d***ed apartment.”

A few other possible negatives were: Nim refers to her father as “Jack” most of the time. A beach scene with lots of people, mostly modestly clothed, however there were a few Hawaiian-type hula dancers and people in bathing suits, as well as a mother who got a bit of screen time and had a low cut top, although she was not the model type who would normally be looked upon sexually. The sea lion passes gas while swimming under water, resulting in smelly bubbles. There was some blood from small cuts/scrapes, but nothing graphic, a pig roast on the beach, and Alexandra takes motion sickness pills that make her drowsy (does not seem to be in a drug-abusive way). Very young children could possibly be afraid of the sharks and dead fish that were eaten by the sea lion (however, once again, not graphic), and Nim at one point believes her father has died, which may be distressing to a very young and sensitive child.

I found this film to be quite entertaining and enjoyable. It was also so refreshing to see a child using her imagination, playing on the beach with animals and reading, rather than watching television and playing video games (or on a cell phone/computer), even though she had these means available to her and did use them when necessary.

I especially enjoyed how the hero character from Alexandra's book was weaved into the story and the idea that both Alexandra and Nim's interpretation of the hero Alex were the same, and that Nim's version of the hero would be (a Scottish version of) her father. The end pulls together nicely as Alexandra sees Nim's father for the first time, and while the movie doesn't directly say, Jodie Foster has the amazing ability to portray Alexandra's feelings without words as she sees her character hero come to life in a sense.

Overall, it was a fun family movie, with beautiful scenery, action and a lot of laughs. Compared to other secular movies out there, it was very clean and opens many opportunities for family discussions and learning experiences.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This was a good clean family film. It is filmed in a beautiful tropical setting. The scenes are breathtaking. The movie is action packed and entertaining throughout the entire film. I viewed it with 2 children age 5 (girl) and 8(boy). They were both very entertained throughout. The movie portrays the love of a father and daughter. The interaction of both with the animals is very believable.The young attress Abigail Breslin plays Nim. She is a beautiful 11 year old girl that enjoys reading adventure books starring Alex Roper. Her father is a scientist that leaves her on “their” island alone while he is off in a boat gathering plankton for scientific reasons. A storm suddenly strikes, leaving him in a damaged boat stranded in the ocean. Nim is alone and scared and receives an email from “Alex Roper.” It is really the author of this adventure series of books that she spends much time reading, but the imagination of Nim is engaged, and she request that he come save her and her father who is lost at sea. The adventures of the Dad trying to get back to the island, and Nim trying to protect “their” special island combined with the adventures of “Alex Roper” all makes a very entertaining movie. I'll be buying this when it comes out on DVD.

The only part of the film that I found very slightly objectional is on a beach scene where there were ladies who were not dressed modestly. It is not any worse that you would see out by any swimming pool, but is is slightly objectional. The film does not have a distinct Christian type message, but it does show the love of a father and child, and also a total stranger sacrifices to do a good deed to try to rescue the child. I would recommend this movie to anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kathy Minter, age 43
Positive—I am a HUGE fan of, and almost always check the moral ratings of films before I allow my 9 year old son to view them. Since it was a rainy, wet day today, we decided to take our chances with Nim's Island, even though it had not yet been rated. I watched the movie with my very critical eye, and happily found absolutely nothing objectionable! However, my son pointed out that there was one time when Nim replied to an email after her father specifically told her not to, but other than that, the movie met with our high standards. There were some mildly scary moment which garnered the PG rating, but otherwise, it could have been rated G in my opinion. Enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kelli, age 41
Positive—I took my just-turned-5 year old son to see this movie and am very happy to recommend it to anyone with children (or without!)! We see very few movies as there are always some kind of objectionable words/innuendos/bonking others over the heads, etc… but that is another topic for another time!

This movie was very refreshing in that it was very clean, it was cute, it was nicely filmed, and it was very family-friendly.

As the movie review mentioned, there are a couple of mild action scenes, but nothing alarming or worrisome from my viewpoint. The little girl does get a gash on her leg, but it was not upsetting for my little one to see (though he was offering her band-aids for a while!).

There was also one woman on the island from a ship who had a very low-cut top… but as the reviewer mentioned, she is not the type of woman who people would think of sexually when seeing her top be so revealing. There was only one word (da**ed) mentioned that was used that could be objectionable, and I can remember no others.

The acting was good, especially the little girl and Jodi Foster. And what can be wrong with beautiful island scenery and crystal blue water as the backdrop for a film??

There were no sexual references or content of any kind at all. No violence. No Sponge-bob humor/bonking over the heads stuff.

Go see this movie with your family! It's funny, your kids will love the animals (and you will too), and you'll enjoy talking about it for some time after seeing it. Enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Leigh Ann, age 38
Positive—A really great adventure story! a young girl with a great imagination lives on an island with her dad and loves adventure stories starring a fictional character. through email she encourages what she thinks is the brave fictional character to come to her island, but really it is the author who is a scared germaphobe. really fun and enjoyable to watch! I didn't find anything remotely offensive
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hayley, age 27
Positive—My wife and I rented this movie last night and really enjoyed it. The movie was filmed in a clever way and the acting was great. Abigail Breslin was excellent as Nim as she reminded me of the talents of Dakota Fanning. As usual, Jodie Foster did quite well, although this isn't usually the type of film you see her in these days. Her character is quite a contrast to the strong woman she portrays so well.

I would like to bring up an issue with the movie and the review that has not been discussed at all.

The movie goes out of its way to portray Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) as a woman who is dealing with OCD and Agoraphobia. The review describes her character as a “phobic recluse.” She then goes on to say this regarding fear.

“For those who struggle with fear, whether as severe as Alexandra's or not, we have reassurance in 2 Timothy chapter 1 that God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

In the movie Alex has been housebound for sixteen weeks and can't work up the nerve to go to her mailbox. This is a very bad case of Agoraphobia that is depicted. Being a person who has suffered with this mental illness for many years I was a bit let down that the movie went out of its way to show how Alex was nothing like the hero she writes about, using Agoraphobia to make the point.

The reality is that a person such as Foster's character doesn't simply decide to leave the house, go to an airport, board a plane, and then to a distant part of the world. I won't mention all of the other things she does along the way as she reclaims or as some say, finds herself.

It is a heroic thing to depict but it in reality really misses big time on the reality of a person suffering with extreme Agoraphobia. If only it was that easy…

The reviewer then goes on to use a verse that has been misapplied to Christians who suffer with Agoraphobia or other mental illnesses that involve fear. It has been shown that Agoraphobia and other mental illnesses are illnesses just as real as cancer or diabetes. So much research is being done in this area that should allow Christians with a mental illness not to be ashamed or think they are a spiritual failure.

I know the film and the author of the review would not in any way seek to misrepresent mental illness and I have no axe to grind. I will admit this is a topic close to my heart, so I'm a bit sensitive about what I read or see.

I appreciate all you do to let us know what we might be getting into when we go to the movies. God bless!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Allan, age 54
Positive—This was a delightful film. Adventurous entertainment, nothing about it made me sorry we had seen it. We took our nieces. Lots of great plot twists, great cinematography, clean.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rick Randall, age 52
Neutral—Although I felt this movie was good and clean (most important), there was one thing that bothered me. Actually my children brought it up to me before I could say anything to them. In the movie, the child continually calls her dad by his first name. Only when she gets really scared does she break down and cry out for dad. It shows societies way, once again, that children are on the same level as adults. But, I was quick to point out to my children, that the reallity was different, she was not able to take care of herself.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Melinda G., age 39
Comments from young people
Positive—When I first saw commericials for this movie, I thought it would be a juvenile kids movie about an unrealistic world with dancing seals and bongo-drumming lizards. But I was SO wrong. Of course the computer-generated animals took up part of the screen time, but not as much as I thought they would. The rest of it was such a good story about self-sacrifice and doing the right thing! And I thought the scenes with Jodie Foster's character talking to her imaginary friend were hilarious. There was hardly any objectionable content, just one of the tourists who needed to fix her shirt! And I could have done without the mealworms. But overall, a wonderful family film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 16
Positive—This movie was great. I watched it with my two sisters and my mom. We all loved it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kathryn, age 11