Jodie Foster tries vainly to kick-start a career as a children’s entertainer in a post-modern adventure aimed squarely at undemanding family audiences. Co-directed by Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, who made the similarly girly Wimbledon and Little Manhattan, and adapted from Wendy Orr’s popular book, Nim’s Island combines elements familiar from Robinson Crusoe and Romancing the Stone.
Reclusive authoress Alexandra Ryder (Foster) is contacted via email by winsome brat Nim (Little Miss Sunshine moppet Abigail Breslin), whose scientist father Jack (Gerry Butler) has gone missing from the tropical island they share. Alexandra’s fear of the outside world is a major obstacle to any rescue, but by conjuring up the Indiana Jones-style hero of her book Alex Ryder, (also played by Butler), she overcomes her agoraphobia while Nim uses Home Alone-style tricks to fend off an unwelcome visit from a cruise ship’s passengers.
Both Breslin and Butler adapt well to the frothy feel of the production, but Foster’s attempts at slapstick are embarrassingly crude and obvious.
The effects of flying lizards and erupting volcanoes are done with a certain tacky verve, but the moral about being the hero of your own adventure needs a bit more gravity and a bit less clowning to create any real emotional impact.
General release from Fri 2 May.