Return to Nim's Island

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Return to Nim's Island Movie Poster Image
Adventure sequel is well-rounded, family-friendly fare.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Viewers are exposed to concepts like endangered species, habitats, and poaching and are treated to scenes of natural beauty and biodiversity in a far-off place.

Positive Messages

Nim's "island smarts" and resourceful nature are second only to her passion for creatures great and small. Everything she does is motivated by her desire to protect them and their habitats. On the downside, she lacks even an iota of realistic fear in facing off with career criminals with little regard for her life, and the fact that she so easily outwits them is a good reminder of the magic of the movies. Nim and Edmund forge an unexpected bond of friendship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nim is a great example of courage, problem-solving, and perseverance, but her efforts get her into some sticky spots at times. Edmund runs away from his family's troubles and inadvertently leads poachers to Nim's Island. Jack leaves Nim essentially alone while he travels to the mainland, but she proves she's up to the challenge. Villains get what's coming to them for their misguided financial motivations.

Violence & Scariness

The movie's villains are animal poachers who threaten Nim's and Edmund's lives on a few occasions. Nim is held captive at knifepoint in one instance, and both teens are in danger when their adversary traps them in a cave by starting a fire. More tense moments follow them as they attempt to outmaneuver the bad guys, in one case by baiting a colony of bees to sting them. The poachers' carelessness almost results in the death of a main animal character.

Sexy Stuff

Some innocent affection between Nim and Edmund, culminating in a hug and a continuing friendship.


Fairly obvious placement of Walmart and Procter & Gamble products like Ozark Trail outdoor equipment, Duracell batteries, and Apple computers. This movie is a follow-up to the 2008 feature film Nim's Island.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Return to Nim's Island is a sequel to the 2008 production Nim's Island and continues the story (with a different cast) of a now-teen girl on a mission to save her island home from developers and others who would harm the wildlife there. Expect some tense moments and peril when poachers trap Nim's animal friends and threaten her life and her friend's. Products like Ozark Trail outdoor equipment and Duracell batteries are featured on a few occasions. The fictional story is steeped in environmental messages about the plight of endangered species, enhanced by the presence of conservationist Bindi Irwin as Nim, a self-reliant, impassioned defender of her animal neighbors and the purity of her island home. Families will also enjoy the story's strong messages about friendship and perseverance.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byPhil4vs8Mom February 27, 2014

Not as good as the first movie, but still fun

Our biggest disappointment was the entirely new cast (we missed Jodi Foster!) in this sequel. It had the same appealing premise of kids surviving and fending of... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byadamgray5 July 10, 2017

Not Very Good At All

I watched this film on DVD as a freind of mine picked it up as it looked good and was priced at a decent rate. I have never watched Nims Island, but if this seq... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 8, 2015

What's the story?

RETURN TO NIM'S ISLAND stars Bindi Irwin as Nim, a spunky 14-year-old who lives on a remote island with her scientist father, Jack (Matthew Lillard); his neurotic research assistant, Felix (Nathan Derrick); and a menagerie of friendly and wild animals. When developers begin vetting Nim's home for an elaborate tourist resort, Jack heads off to the mainland to plead his case with politicians, leaving Nim behind to hold down the fort. The unexpected arrival of a runaway named Edmund (Toby Wallace) puts her on edge, and the fact that he's tailed by poachers means trouble for everyone. Once Edmund earns Nim's trust, the two team up to save themselves and the island from both threats.

Is it any good?

Bindi Irwin takes holds of the role of Nim masterfully acted by Abigail Breslin in the 2008 original movie, bringing her characteristic charm to every scene. Irwin is just as comfortable in front of the camera as she is interacting with her supporting animal cast, and, even less surprisingly, she's quite believable in the role of an impassioned wildlife activist who will put her own life in danger to save an animal's. Just as her late father before her, Irwin clearly knows how to strike a balance between entertaining an audience and furthering her conservationist cause. Even though this story is fictional, it raises plenty of points about species endangerment and habitat destruction that families can explore further on their own. 

But Irwin isn't the only bright spot in this well-rounded family movie. There's the kind of adventure you can only find in a tricked-out tree-house home complete with zip lines; danger and suspense tempered by just the right level of ineptitude to ensure that the villains aren't too threatening; and a budding, age-appropriate affection between two young teens. Return to Nim's Island is easily enjoyed regardless of whether you've seen the original, but those who do know the back story will especially like that it pays homage to Jodie Foster's role in the first by incorporating the Alex Rover books into the plot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about causes that are important to them. What current issues are you passionate about? What changes do you think need to be made in regard to them? How would these changes have a positive effect on the world?

  • How often do you notice product placement in TV shows and movies? Is it disruptive to your enjoyment of the show? Is it a necessary evil? Do you think it influences your buying habits? 

  • Why do you think Bindi Irwin was cast for this role? Does her involvement make you more interested in watching it? Does it make you give more thought to the conservation issues it raised?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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