Nim's Island



Book-based tropical adventure is good family fun.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: March 11, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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).

Sexy stuff

Tourist beach scenes include some women in skimpy suits and/or showing cleavage.


Very mild. Words include "dang," "bloody," and "stupid."


Fairly obvious product placements for Purell hand sanitizer and Progresso soup. Other brands include Mac computers, Expedia, and National Geographic.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this kid-friendly adventure movie 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.

What's the story?

Nim (Abigail Breslin) and her scientist dad, Jack (Gerard Butler), have lived on their own private tropical island since Nim's mom died when she was a baby. Thanks to solar panels and a satellite dish, their Swiss Family Robinson-like treehouse is equipped with a phone, email, and electricity -- all of which come in handy when Jack heads out to sea to look for a new species of plankton and leaves Nim by herself. He's only planning to be gone for a couple of days, but a nasty storm leaves him stranded -- and Nim increasingly worried. She turns to her favorite author/hero, adventure writer Alex Rover, for cyber help, little suspecting that Alex is actually a neurotic, borderline agoraphobic woman (Jodie Foster). Both Alex and Nim are in for several surprises before their adventure ends.

Is it any good?


Aside from the central email plot device, NIM'S ISLAND has the feel of an old-fashioned family adventure -- the kind star 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether this kind of movie is as entertaining as one with lots of special effects and/or animation. Kids: Which kind of adventure do you like better, and why? What makes Nim different from many other kid characters in movies and TV shows? Do you think she's a good role model? What about Alex Rover? What do Alex and Nim learn during the movie? What would you do in Nim's situation? Do you think it was right for her father to leave her alone on the island? Families who've read the book can compare and contrast the two. Which do you like better, and why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 4, 2008
DVD release date:August 4, 2008
Cast:Abigail Breslin, Gerard Butler, Jodie Foster
Directors:Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Great girl role models, Ocean creatures, Wild animals
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild adventure action and brief language.

This review of Nim's Island was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old June 16, 2010

Good for anyone 6 and up for sure.

LOVE IT! I would not say its the best but if was very well done. I think kids of all ages ^ and up could defiantly see it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 9 years old December 29, 2009

Nim's Island was okay.

This movie was not scary for me. I saw it when I was eight. My family liked it but I thought it wass okay. So I thought that I should give it a three. When Nim injured he knee and puss started coming out I thought that that was gross. I say 8+ because I saw all the other reviews and saw that kids 7- got frightned.
Parent of a 17 year old Written byRubikh April 9, 2010
I liked it and my daughter age 18 thinks that it's an okay movie. What I admire the most is the powerful imagination of a writer who seems to be a coward in real. But when she receives a call for help from a child stuck on an island, she overcomes her phobia of real adventure by her inner love for expedition.


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