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(2008), PG [PG*] (1hr 32min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
August 30, 2008
September 2, 2008

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2008), PG [PG*] ... delightful romp into tropical living

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Walden Media
Distribution (US): Fox-Walden
Director(s): Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Producer(s): Alan Edward Bell, Stephen Jones, Paula Mazur
Written by: Joseph Kwong
Screenplay: Paula Mazur, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Novel: Wendy Orr
Cinematography/Camera: Stuart Dryburgh
Music: Patrick Doyle
Film Editing: Stuart Levy
Casting: Nancy Nayor
Production Design: Barry Robison
Art Direction: Colin Gibson, Jacinta Leong, Deborah Riley
Viewed on Fox Home Entertainment DVD

This analysis is sponsored by E&HP and DC.

Well! A PG film earning a PG-equivalent CAP final score. That means Nim's Island contains programming morally equivalent to PG films in the comparative baseline database of films. The final score of 79 out of 100 places the content of this film solidly in the scoring range earned by PG films (68 to 86 out of 100) in the baseline database. But be sure to inspect at least the individual investigation area discussions at the end of this report if not the detailed listings in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide for what age stratum this film is fit. You might be surprised about the violence content.

Eleven year old Nim Rusoe (Abigail Breslin - Signs) loses her marine scientist mother, Emily (Shannon van der Drift) to the sea and lives with her likewise marine scientist father, Jack (Gerard Butler) on Nim's Island (Tuvala Island), an uninhabited dormant volcanic island in the South Pacific at 20 degrees South, 162 degrees West -- about four degrees West from Tengatangi, Polynesia. In a story with satirical theft from Indiana Jones, Robinson Crusoe and others, little Nim wages war on the elements ... and on a horde of "buccaneer" tourists.

One day, Jack must go out to sea to conduct research into an as-yet undiscovered protozoa. Nim is perplexed about going with her father since one of her island inhabitants is pregnant and, of course, the survival of the hatchlings depends on Nim, as if such hatchlings had never survived without her. Nim launches the "I'm not a little girl anymore" argument at her father. So Jack spares his soul for her crying. [Prov. 19:18]

Nim is now all alone on the island while her father does his research at sea. Soon, the monsoons come and Jack is swept overboard a couple times. Pining for Nim and her safety, Jack swears to get back to her. But the same storm hits the island. A hurricane Northeast of them sends swirls of daughter storms to torment them.

Let me point out something here. Jack decides to let 11 year old Nim stay on the island alone. He did it before but just for one night, so why not leave her there for four nights? So far, so good. Then Jack ends up in the middle of a terrible storm, wrecking his boat. Now, the story leads the viewer to feel it was a good thing to leave Nim on the island alone else she might have been drowned at sea. That is story manipulation to excuse risk-taking with children which enabled violation of Prov. 19:18. It is all very subtle but the influence of such dissonance aimed at children is often indelible and easily becomes vocal.

Actually, Nim is not all alone. She has friends on the island. Selkie the sea lion. Fred the bearded dragon lizard and Galileo the pelican. While they are good company, they are not much in terms of keeping Nim safe.

Nim promised Jack to keep the island safe from invaders while he was away at sea. But soon they come. Hordes of tourists from The Buccaneer cruise line ship. First Nim sees the Captain (Michael Carman) and three of his officers land on the beach. To Nim, their attire makes them look like pirates. Nim is 11 years old and still given to fantasy. Indeed it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions -- such skills do not typically plateau until the early 20s. Nim sees the "pirates" as invaders. When the hordes of tourists led by the "pirates" land on the beach, Nim launches an attack on the tourist invaders with the help of the friends of Fred. Within moments the tourists are rained upon by a variety of lizards. But in the process of launching a fake volcano eruption Nim falls down the volcano wall and suffers a nasty five-inch gash on her left shin. The gash (which seems to move down her shin as the scenes progress) gets worse and swells with time, becomes infected. Nim is now weakened and afraid.

One of the items Jack brought with them to while away the evening hours is a number of Alex Rover books. Rover is a swashbuckling, "Indiana Jones" action hero lead story character. Everybody loves Alex Rover who always gets out of any predicament. So, Nim emails Rover who is actually the intensely agoraphobic novelist Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster). At the encouragement of an imaginary Alex Rover (also played by Gerard Butler) who talks to Alexandra who talks to him but nobody but Alexandra can see, Alexandra, so moved by Nim's plight, journeys to Nim's island at 20 degrees South, 162 degrees West -- about as South Pacific and South Pacific gets.

There is, of course, much more to the story. All in all it was a delightful romp into tropical living. But my job for you is more to tell you of the content than the story. Let's get to that.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 49 out of 100
The PG rating for this film by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is due, in part, to "mild adventure action" as if attempted sacrifice murder by being thrown into an active volcano or watching a woman sink deep below the sea are "mild adventure action." Unfortunately, these matters along with all the storm peril earned this film an investigation area score of 49, making it equivalent to some R-rated features in the magnitude of violence content. Not because of the intensity or severity of any of the specific violence situations but because of the number of them. For more information on this technique of loading the content of a film with "lesser" examples of threshold-challenging content to achieve the same feel as a film with more severe content, see our CAP Rule of 1000 publication. [Prov. 16:29]

The problem with saturation of a film with "lesser" issues of violence is not shock value as with intense and severe violence but is desensitization of the viewer. Our Director - Child Psychology Support related that a film with many "lesser" instances of ignominy can indeed have more of an effect on the observer than a film with a couple intense or severe instances. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and two other professional health organizations agree (see Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit for more information). By the way, God agrees, too. [1 Cor. 15:33]

Even though this film earned an R-equivalent investigation area score in Wanton Violence/Crime, the lack of assaults on morality and decency in other investigation areas such as sex and murder boosted the final score (the average of the six investigation area scores) up to PG-equivalence.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 75 out of 100
The PG MPAA rating is also due, in part, to "brief language." But this investigation area found no such content. Not one use of profanity was noted. I watched the DVD through a curse-free filter but with the onscreen captioning it is not likely I missed any foul language. The use of God's name in vain (without the four letter expletive) was rather heavy but that is incorporated in the Offense to God investigation area. So, in the DVD cut I viewed there was no noted use of the three/four letter word vocabulary. That does not mean the cut the MPAA saw (or the one you see) does not contain any profanity. It only means I noted no such language in the cut I viewed.

However, there were a number of other items of content applicable to this investigation area, items such as willfully leaving an 11 year old girl on an island alone, she calling her father by his first name repeatedly and "don't tell dad" rationale.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
Nothing was noted that warranted any point loss in this investigation area.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 96 out of 100
One reference to an alcoholic beverage and drinking it. That's all.

Offense to God (O) - 57 out of 100
Unfortunately, God's name is used in vain (though without the four letter expletive) eight times. [Deut 5:11]

Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
Also in this investigation area nothing was noted that warranted any point loss.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 19:18 Chasten [correct, guide, discipline] thy son [child] while there is hope, and let not thy soul [the seat of emotions] spare for [give in to] his crying.
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence, no matter how "small" it might seem, and its effect on an observer. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/characters demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen. Knowing of Prov. 16:29 you now know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Nim's Island (2008) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 49 out of 100
  • tale of mother's death
  • young girl in risky and dangerous situations throughout
  • action violence - fight for life, attempted murder by sacrifice in volcano
  • storm peril involving adult male and little girl, repeatedly
  • little girl climbing volcano wall twice, once with fall including injury
  • young girl diving into storm surf
  • adult male swept overboard, repeatedly
  • near drowning, rescue peril of little girl and adult woman
  • a man disappearing into ocean

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 75 out of 100
  • leaving an 11 year old girl alone on an uninhabited island
  • calling father by his first name throughout
  • "Don't tell dad"
  • littering
  • flatulence, repeatedly

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 96 out of 100
  • one reference to an alcoholic beverage and drinking it

    Offense to God (O) - 57 out of 100
  • eight uses of God's name in vain though all were without the four letter expletive
  • the father sparing his soul for his daughter's crying
  • praise to a false Gaian god, mother nature
  • asking God to kill self

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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