A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Believe in yourself, help others, and be courageous.
Positive Role Models
Nim is a strong, independent, resourceful girl who loves reading, nature, and science -- in other words, she's a great tween role model. Alex overcomes a lifetime of fears to help Nim. In helping each other, they both learn how to "be the hero of your own life story." On the downside, Jack does leave Nim alone on the island, but neither of them anticipates what will happen, and he works tirelessly to get back to her. Australian tourists are presented as a loud, oblivious, selfish horde, which is used to justify Nim's attempts to trick and scare them.
Violence & Scariness
Several intense storm sequences in which boats are capsized and/or destroyed and people are in danger. Sharks threaten Jack's boat. Jack is knocked out at one point, and Nim scrapes up her knee pretty badly (some blood is shown) falling down a mountainside. The volcano rumbles and spews steam and ash, putting Nim and some tourists at risk. Nim uses a machete for lots of her island tasks, and Alex's hero carries ammunition. Some of the fantasy sequences he's in include fights with swords and other weapons, as well as life-threatening peril, but it's not very scary. The opening credits explain that Nim's mom died when she was a baby (it's told via animation but is still sad).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tourist beach scenes include some women in skimpy suits and/or showing cleavage.
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Very mild. Words include "dang," "bloody," and "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
Fairly obvious product placements for Purell hand sanitizer and Progresso soup. Other brands include Mac computers, Expedia, and National Geographic.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nim's Island is kid-friendly adventure movie that has some intense moments of peril (particularly during two scary storms) but is ultimately a positive story with a great role model for tween girls (and boys!). The book-and-science-loving 11-year-old heroine is left alone on a tropical island by her father (her mother died when she was a baby, which is explained in the opening sequence) and has to fend for herself when he's delayed in getting back to her. She gets scared and upset and even hurts herself, all of which may bother some young and/or sensitive kids, but she's also resourceful and not afraid to ask for help. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Aside from the central email plot device, this has the feel of a good old-fashioned family adventure. It's like the kind of film Jodie Foster made a couple of when she was a kid actor herself in the '70s (Candleshoe, anyone?). Kids will love Nim and Jack's tricked-out tree house, which is much more elaborate than the simple hut described in the book the movie is based on -- ahh, movie magic. They'll also love Nim's island friends -- Selkie the sea lion, Fred the marine iguana, Chica the sea turtle, etc. -- and Nim herself. Breslin is engaging and sympathetic as she copes with storms, invading tourists (the movie's closest thing to "bad guys"), and facing her fears about her missing father. Dirty, wild-haired, science-savvy, book loving; Nim is the anti-starlet, and just the kind of role model tweens could use more of.
The adult actors are also appealing. Foster is funny, relatable, and down to earth -- it's nice to see her doing something so lighthearted after a string of intense dramas/thrillers, and she's really one of the highlights of the movie. Butler is a bit corny as Jack, but in his other role -- he also stands in as the Indiana Jones-like hero of Alex's books, who comes to life when she needs someone to talk to -- he's roguishly charming. Along with the movie's strongly positive messages about believing in yourself and helping others, the three stars make it easy to overlook the movie's weaker areas (the script is a little bit cheesy in spots, and some of the plot twists require a pretty big suspension of disbelief even for a kids' adventure movie). Kids who go exploring with Nim will have a great time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.