THE LINE: In this dark and witty fable, Thompson portrays a person of unsettling appearance and magical powers who enters the household of the recently widowed Mr. Brown (Firth) and attempts to tame his seven exceedingly ill-behaved children. The children, led by the oldest boy Simon (Love Actually’s Thomas Sangster), have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies and are certain that they will have no trouble with this one. But as Nanny McPhee takes control, they begin to notice that their vile behavior now leads swiftly and magically to rather startling consequences.
Her influence also extends to the family’s deeper problems, including Mr. Brown’s sudden and seemingly inexplicable attempts to find a new wife; an announcement by the domineering Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) that she intends to take one of the children away; and the sad and secret longings of their scullery maid, Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald). As the children’s behavior begins to change, Nanny McPhee’s arresting face and frame appear to change as well, creating even more questions about this mysterious stranger whom the children and their father have come to love.
Nanny McPhee is directed by Kirk Jones (writer/director of Waking Ned Devine). The producers are Lindsay Doran (in her third collaboration with Thompson, following Sense and Sensibility and Dead Again) and Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
THE REVIEW: The older viewers will liken Nanny McPhee to Mary Poppins. Nanny McPhee is far from being original. Emma Thompson’s script does well to appeal to children with bits that will also make parents laugh.
The entire set of Nanny McPhee borrows from many of the recent children’s films with a world that is full of color and vibrancy. The children are also vivacious—they have to be in order to stick out against the rest of set. The actors and actresses don’t do much to set their performances apart. Angela Lansbury appears, and for being her first film in two decades, doesn’t do much make us miss her on the big screen. A major disappointment is the special effects. The effects aren’t up to par with recent films such as Narnia—but what does?
FRANKLY: Nanny McPhee pales in comparison to the recent slew of great children’s films such as Narnia and Harry Potter. Nanny McPhee tries extremely hard to look and feel like those other films but lacks the depth and adventure.
+ Charlie Craine