by Janine Ashbless
Ever hear the one about the reclusive female author living a life of vicarious adventure through a fictional hero who looks exactly like Gerard Butler? No, they haven’t made a film of my life (although if they did I’d be honoured to be played by Jodie Foster): this is Nim’s Island, a movie for kids. And writers.
Plot: Nim is a pre-teen living an idyllic but isolated life with her scientist father Jack (Butler) and her animal friends on a Pacific island. Everything Nim knows about the world comes from books, and her great hero is the adventurer/writer Alex Rover. Jack goes off to collect protozoa from a reef and becomes lost at sea. Nim, left alone except for her sea lion and frigate bird and lizard, contacts Alex Rover via e-mail and asks him to come and help. What she doesn’t know is that Alex isn’t a macho explorer but an agoraphobic forty-something writer (Foster) who hasn’t left her apartment in 16 weeks, dances to Youtube videos and is scared to fetch the mail.
Alex is goaded by her animus/alter ego/imaginary self (also played by Gerard Butler!) and despite her neuroses sets off to the rescue. So the film splits into 3 segments: Jack trying to keep afloat on a damaged boat in shark-infested waters, hapless Alex (plus imaginary friend) making her journey, and Nim fending off an invasion of fat Australian tourists from the secret island.
This is by no means a serious film; it has a broad streak of silliness and the sort of super-intelligent animal friends that gave Skippy a bad name. But the jokes about writers and their eccentricities are rather good, and the two adult leads look lovely, and the fantasy juxtapositions are clever. This is the sort of feel-good, innocent childrens’ adventure you thought they didn’t make any more.
And if neither Jodie Foster nor Gerard Butler flailing about in a wet shirt does it for you, there’s another reason you should take your small female relatives to see this. Nim’s Island is a Hollywood rarity: an aspirational movie for girls, that treats them as capable imaginative individuals rather than as shrieking fashion-obsessed herd animals. What took them so long?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
by Janine Ashbless