Some times I expect certain things out of a film but then watch it to learn I was totally misleading myself with my expectations. 2008's Nim's Island is a case in point: I knew it was a film aimed at kids, but I worked under the assumption that a film featuring Jodie Foster must have some serious credentials under its belt. I was wrong.
Nim's Island follows Nim (played by Abigail Breslin, who had a starring role in My Sister's Keeper), an imaginative girl whose mother seems to have died (?) a while ago. In what is meant to be a fuzzy mix of reality and imagination, we learn that Nim lives on a Pacific island alone with her researcher father (Gerald Butler). They live an eco life, with animals as Nim's best friends (animals that behave very human like); for human company, Nim reads books written by Jodie Foster's character about this big macho hero (whose flashbacks are portrayed by Butler, too). Foster's, however, is a character that won't leave apartment, unable to manage human contact.
Circumstances force Foster to leave her apartment when Nim's father goes missing during a sea research quest. Nim won't call for outside help because she doesn't want her island to be charted, but as independent as she is Foster feels obliged to get out of her apartment (and her flock of product placed Apple Macs) and get in touch with her human side. The rest, as they say, is incredibly predictable.
The problem with Nim's Island is not that it's a children's film, but rather it being a film that presents a twisted picture of reality to children. The premises are just too pathetically weak, there is over reliance on stereotypes, and everything is just meant to be simply digested by the child even though nothing stands the test of reason. I guess what I'm arguing for is that even films which are meant to set sail into an imaginative realm need an anchor in reality or it least some good reasons for leaving reality behind, and Nim's Island lacks those. What it does have, though, is the stuff of below average films. It's not only the plot, the acting is pretty pathetic - Foster's included
Worst scene: The scientist Butler wears eyeglasses; the adventurer Butler doesn't. Stereotypes, anyone?
Overall: What was Foster thinking, taking part in this pathetic effort? I don't know, but I rate Nim's Island somewhere between 1.5 and 2 stars out of 5.