Return to Nim's Island

image for Return to Nim's Island

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Not recommended under 7, PG to 9 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Return to Nim's Island
  • a review of Return to Nim's Island completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 7 - 9 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 9 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Return to Nim's Island
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild violence
Length: 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Return to Nim’s Island opens with 14-year-old Nim (Bindi Irwin) swimming amongst colourful coral with her best friend Selkie the sealion, while collecting protozoa samples for her scientist father Jack (Matthew Lillard).  The only other human inhabitant of Nim’s Island is Jack’s research assistant Felix (Nathan Derrick). We soon learn that the island is under threat from developers who want to buy the island and build a resort there. Jack, intent on stopping the sale, heads off to mainland Australia to meet with the Minister of the Environment. Nim convinces Jack to leave her on the island with Felix. She intends to prove the existence on the island of three endangered animal species, which would ensure the island's protection from developers.

Meanwhile 14-year-old Edmund (Toby Wallace), who lives on the mainland, has been planning his own adventure for a number of years, saving his money and buying camping equipment so that he can run away to Nim’s Island. To get to the island, he hires the services of a disreputable charter boat captain named Booker (John Waters) and his two sons (Sebastian Gregory and Jack Pearson). Unfortunately what Edmund doesn’t know is that the unscrupulous Booker and sons intend to poach the island’s native and endangered animals.

Edmund and Nim get off to a shaky start at first meeting but when Edmund proves his usefulness, Nim begins to warm to him. However when Booker and sons begin to poach the island’s animals, events take a nasty turn for Nim, Edmund and Felix.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Endangered species; poaching

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains infrequent violence which at times is slapstick and comical. Examples include:

  • In a couple of scenes we hear but do not see Edmund’s parents having a heated argument shouting at each other. As a result of the arguing Edmund becomes distressed, packs his bags and runs away.
  • In one slapstick scene a seal shoves Felix with its nose, pushing him over a bench in a laboratory. A liquid nitrogen cylinder accidentally goes off freezing the seat of his pants and causing the material to break and crumble away, revealing his underpants beneath.
  • In a somewhat comical scene three men are attacked by a swarm of bees, the bees driving the men into the sea with the men slapping at their heads and bodies as they run. After the attack one of the men appears badly stung, his face covered in lumps and his eyes swollen shut.
  • Booker threatens Nim with a hunting knife, telling her “I’ve gutted fish bigger than you”. Nim throws a rock at Booker’s face causing him to fall over, with a bookcase falling on top of him.
  • In another scene, a man threatening Nim with a hunting knife says that he will hurt Nim’s pet seal if Nim refuses to do what she is told.
  • One perilous scene depicts Nim and Edmunds edging their way across a cliff face with rocks falling from above threatening to knock them from the cliff. Edmund slips and falls, but Nim grabs him by the shirt collar. While they are trying to squeeze through a narrow fissure in the cliff face, Booker throws large rocks from above, narrowly missing them. Booker also throws flaming branches into the fissure’s entrance, trapping Nim and Edmund.
  • Jack come up behind Booker, hits him over the head with a log and then punches him in the face, knocking him out.             

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • One scene depicts Booker’s two sons falling into quicksand and sinking up to their shoulders.
  • Edmund loses his footing and slips and falls into a stream. He is washed over a high waterfall and plummets down screaming into a deep pool below. In an attempt to save Edmund, Nim jumps into the stream and plummets down the waterfall after Edmund; both swim to the bank and are uninjured.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • In one scene Nim and Edmund find Nim’s pet seal Selkie trapped in a cage in a distressed and dehydrated state. Nim and Edmund pull to seal down onto the beach and into the water where the seal recovers.
  • A couple of scenes depict the poachers’ hoard of dozens of caged animals with Nim unsuccessfully attempting to release the animals from their cages.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Notning of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple computers
  • Duracell batteries
  • Walmart/Ozark Trail Outdoor Equipment

Sexual references

The film contains some low-level sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • Nim tells Felix “Your crush on my dad is so embarrassing”.
  • A young man tells makes reference to sending his girlfriend a “kiss goodnight text”.
  • When talking to Nim’s father we hear Edmund saying “I just came here for an adventure with your daughter, no funny stuff”.
  • In relation to Edmund staying with Nim, Jack says, “I don’t trust teenage boys, I should know- I used to be one”.
  • A young man says that his brother has had experience dating ugly animals with the brother responding, “You should know - your girlfriend looks like a warthog”.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There are some name calling and putdowns that children may imitate. Examples include:

  • Swindlers, numbskull, little sucker, rug rats, dumb kid, idiot, chubby nerd, runt, shut up, and weirdo.

In a nutshell

Return to Nim’s Island , sequel to Nim’s Island,  is a family film that contains lots of positive messages relating to the importance of saving the environment and endangered animals. The film is likely to entertain older children and young teens with its balance of comedy, adventure, suspense and a hint of romance with attractive teenage stars. Despite the G rating, the Classification Board warns of “very mild violence” and our reviewer does not recommend the film for children under seven.   There are some violent scenes, and scenes of people and animals in danger, which are likely to scare children under 7 and some slightly older than this, so parental guidance is recommended for children up to nine years old.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include selflessness, problem solving, courage and perseverance as shown by Nim, a strong female role model.  However, parents may also wish to discuss the possible real-life consequences of putting your life in danger by pitting yourself against hardened criminals in the way Nim did.