Return to Nim's Island
Adventure sequel is well-rounded, family-friendly fare.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
Not as good as the first movie, but still fun
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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?
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 2013
- Cast: Bindi Irwin, Matthew Lillard, Toby Wallace
- Director: Brendan Maher
- Studio: Walden Media
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild peril and some rude humor
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
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