There's not enough hand sanitizer in the whole world to make Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) happy. (That's Alex Rover the author, not Alex Rover the rough and tumble adventure hero created by Alex Rover the author.) Suffering from acute agoraphobia and terrified of germs, the writer has a wild imagination and a knack for dashing off edge-of-you-seat best sellers about the leading character (Gerard Butler) who shares her name. But in reality, she's too frightened to even crack the door and check the mail.
Unbeknownst to her, she has a devoted 11-year-old fan that lives half way around the world in a tropical locale with her father, Jack (also played by Gerard Butler). Nim (Abigal Breslin) is an avid reader who devours every new Alex Rover adventure that shows up on the supply ship. The time for pleasure reading is over though when her dad, a marine biologist researching plankton, goes missing at sea during a violent storm. Left alone on the island, Nim exchanges email correspondence with Alex while awaiting her dad's return. However, when a shipload of sailors descends on the beach with plans to exploit it, she begs the author to come and help her.
After exhausting every excuse she can think of, the petrified penman packs a suitcase and faces her front door. Egged on by her made-up protagonist, she books a flight for nether parts of the world and undergoes an airport bag search. Finally stealing a boat, riding through a monsoon in a helicopter and taking enough motion sickness pills to knock out a horse, Alex washes up on the shore of the lush land mass but Nim's welcome isn't quite what she envisioned.
Luckily with only a couple of profanities and some moments of peril, this sun-baked script will likely meet the expectations of most family viewers. Foster's performance as the panic-driven author who learns to live the life she's only imagined and Butler's duel roles as dad and champion are both engaging. However, the bright spot in all this sea and sand is Breslin as Nim, who's resourceful and intrepid without being a bratty know-it-all. Competent enough to plug in the solar panels and reestablish power after a downpour, she still needs her father's care and the intervention of an adult--even a frightfully inept one.
Not since the Swiss Family Robinson shipwrecked on a deserted isle has the South Seas offered so much family friendly adventure as Nim's Island.