Bindi Irwin Return To Nim’s Island, GIVEN the obvious links between the fate that befalls Stephanie in Audiard’s film and that of Steve Irwin, watching 14-year-old Bindi Irwin in Return to Nim’s Island was a slightly surreal experience.
This is a sequel to the 2008 Nim’s Island, which starred Jodie Foster as a writer of adventure books and Abigail Breslin as the heroine, Nim, who lives with her father on an uninhabited island in the Pacific (her mother was apparently swallowed by a whale).
The new film omits Foster’s character and replaces Gerard Butler, who played Jack, the father, with Matthew Lillard, a curious choice one would have thought. Young Bindi, though, is perfectly cast as Nim, a kid completely at ease with the outdoor life she lives, in tune with the flora and fauna, including the marine life, around her.
The new film is based on the second Nim book, Nim at Sea, by Wendy Orr, and the environmentally friendly plot involves Nim thwarting the dastardly plans of developers to transform the island paradise into a themed resort. The girl is not alone in her adventures; she’s joined by another 14-year-old, Edmund (Toby Wallace), who helps her fend off a family of bad guys led by John Waters, and she also has friends from the animal kingdom, including a cute sea lion, a lizard and numerous birds. There’s also an overweight kid, Felix (Nathan Derrick), whose role is a bit superfluous.
One of the film’s screenwriters, Cathy Randall, wrote and directed a charming teen comedy, Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, in 2008. I don’t know if the Nim books are as ecologically progressive as the film is – and as opposed to the kind of development Nim is so determined to prevent – but the message directed at the target audience comes across loud and clear. On the other hand, the Americanisation of the Australian (characters wear “flip-flops”, not “thongs”) indicates where the investors hope the film will earn most of its money.
As for Bindi, she enters into the spirit of the adventure with energy and good humour. Brendan Maher directs.