Nim's Island is one of those movies that's a minor work in the careers of those involved, but a very pleasing diversion nonetheless. Part Little Mermaid, part Home Alone, and part Romancing the Stone, the film establishes a delightful storybook universe in which a marine biologist and his daughter live on a lush island with no other inhabitants, where they subsist on who-knows-what, and commune with the marine life and waterfowl. That this never seems strange is an indication of how Nim's Island floods you with its charm straight away. Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin are extremely well cast in these roles; in fact, this stands out as Butler's most likeable work in the string of bad action movies and romantic comedies that followed 300. And if you want someone to defend an island against an invading horde of vulgar tourists, you couldn't find a better choice than the plucky Breslin, who always brings a maturity of craftsmanship that defies her age. But the funniest presence here is Jodie Foster, playing an agoraphobic novelist who writes about the adventurer Alex Rover (also played by Butler), who is also, not coincidentally, her namesake (she's Alexandra Rover). It's tremendous fun to see the often-serious Foster cut loose in a flat-out comedic role, hyperventilating her way across the globe as she clings to her favorite soup as the only acceptable form of sustenance. Part of what makes Nim's Island feel so fully realized is that they didn't scrimp on the special effects for a modestly budgeted kids movie, adapted from the popular book by Wendy Orr. The marine-life characters -- a sea lion, a turtle, a pelican, and a lizard -- are flawless digital creations. Mixed in with all this fun is a nourishing message about conquering your fears. Nim's Island is a winner.