Nim's Island, U
Made Of Honour, 12A
Adrift at sea, with not a coherent plotline in sight
Sunday 04 May 2008
Gerard Butler's character spends most of Nim's Island lost at sea, and I know how he feels. Drifting between an ocean survival drama, a metropolitan chick flick, and a twee children's comedy with a lizard that plays the bongos, the film starts by introducing a girl called Nim (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin), who lives on a remote tropical island with her father (Butler) and her pet sealion.
She's addicted to the autobiographical books of Alex Rover, a fearless explorer who could be Indiana Jones's Scottish cousin, so one day when her dad has sailed off in search of some rare plankton, she's overjoyed to receive an email from her hero. She even begs Rover to come to her aid when her dad's return is delayed, unaware that the books are actually written by a female San Franciscan author named Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster) who's too neurotic to leave her apartment.
Still following this? I'm not sure I am, but after a mountain of exposition, the film lands on three storylines which hardly add up to a molehill between them. One strand has Nim mucking about on her island, in no danger whatsoever, repelling some Australian tourists by training her pet sealion to fart at them. Another strand has her dad fixing his storm-damaged yacht with the help of a tame pelican. And the third has Alexandra Rover forcing herself to leave her comfort zone and travel to Nim's rescue – even though she doesn't need rescuing – spurred on by a hallucination of the swashbuckler from her novels (also played by Butler).
What's the point of this over-reaching farrago, except to make it crystal clear why the flapping, twittering Foster doesn't appear in many comedies? I suppose if your children want to see a middle-aged writer overcoming agoraphobia in the most roundabout possible way, then Nim's Island is the film for them.
Made Of Honour is the third New York wedding comedy of the past three months, and it's already getting blurred in my mind with The Accidental Husband and 27 Dresses. Two of these films have a posh Brit who's bound to be dumped when his fiancée realises that she loves an American all along. Two of them have someone doing bridesmaid duties while pining for one of the betrothed. And all three of them have their variation on the Four Weddings and a Funeral scene of Andie MacDowell trying on dresses in front of Hugh Grant. I hope Richard Curtis is getting royalties.
For what it's worth, Made Of Honour is the best of the three films, in that it's not actively infuriating. Patrick Dempsey stakes his claim to be the new Clooney, with his upsettingly lush hair and light comic touch, while Michelle Monaghan is as cute as a pixie. But they aren't given many jokes or much of a plot to work with. Like Harry and Sally, they've been best friends for years, but he's such a philanderer that they've never once thought of getting together, and it's not until Monaghan goes to Scotland on a month-long business trip that Dempsey realises that he can't bear to be without her. On her return, he's just about to pour his heart out when she announces that she got engaged to a Scottish duke (Kevin McKidd) while she was away, and that she wants Dempsey to be the maid of honour at her wedding in a fortnight's time.
This raises three questions. First, why the rush to get married? Second, why doesn't Dempsey just tell her how he feels? And third, why does nobody pose the first two questions?
Apparently, Dempsey and his obligatory buddies think it would be a better idea for him to sabotage the wedding from within, a plot which lasts approximately two scenes before he changes his mind, and decides to show Monaghan what a catch he is by being an exemplary maid of honour. That scheme lasts two scenes before it too is dropped, whereupon the characters fly to McKidd's scenic Scottish estate for the nuptials, and the film turns into "Meet the McMurrays". It's passable, but Made Of Honour wanders along as if the writers came up with that terrible punning title and took the rest of the day off.
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