Nanny McPhee

| February 6, 2006

The Nanny McPhee four sentence review:

  • “Feeeeed the birds… Tuppence a bag.”
  • “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious.”
  • “Chim chim cha ree.”
  • “Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

You remember them. You loved them. You memorized them. And when you saw the vaguely (and oddly) familiar movie poster for Nanny McPhee, you remembered Mary Poppins and decided to plunk down your $10 and told the kidlets you were going to the movies.
You will not be upset you brought the kids, but you should know that Nanny McPhee is quite a bit darker, does not have the flair and you will not leave the theater trying to decide which song you liked the most.
Nanny McPhee begins with the 17th in a series of nannies leaving the Brown household because the seven newly motherless children have run her and all of her predecessors out by being absolutely wretched. Their father ( Colin Firth from Love Actually and Girl with a Pearl Earring) Cedrick is under a bit of pressure to keep the house running and find a wife because if he doesn’t, his dearly departed wife’s Great Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury from Gaslight, National Velvet and The Harvey Girls) will cut off his monthly stipend. This would send him to the debtor’s prison, the older kids to the workhouse and the younger kids to various other foster situations.
Compounding the situation is the fact that there are no more nannies available in the town. Until Nanny McPhee shows up. Just like Mary Poppins did at the Bank’s domicile. That is not where the similarities end. You see, like Mary Poppins, when you need Nanny McPhee and don’t want her, she stays but when you want Nanny McPhee but don’t need her. And she won’t leave until she teaches the children five lessons.
The lessons correspond to Cedrick’s wooing of Selma Quickly (Celia Imrie from Calendar Girls and Wimbledon) who is as scary looking a woman as I have ever seen. I mean she is as ugly as my best friend’s ex-wife (but only half as nasty). The fact that they won’t end up together at the end is very obvious and you just can’t wait to see her disappear.
Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay (based on the Nurse Matilda books by Chistianna Brand) and stars as Nanny McPhee. While you thought of Mary Poppins as a good witch like Glinda in the Wizard of Oz, you were not quite sure from what part of the magical spectrum she arrived. Thompson’s McPhee is most certainly a witch–but only those who want her know how good she really is.
There are plenty of pretty colors and kid-aged humor in this film. In the absence of a copy of Mary Poppins it is really a very good movie to see on the big screen with your little ones–the kids in the screening I saw were having a very good time. Outside of the obvious schtick of a food fight or two, the humor is not so low that adults will be bored. Good acting sees to that.
You wanted Mary Poppins to be your nanny. And by the end of the movie, you also want Nanny McPhee as well.

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