Starring Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Kelly MacDonald, Thomas Sangster
Release Date: January 27, 2005
Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some rude humor and mild language
Undertaker Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) desperately needs to find both a nanny and a new mother for his seven very, very, very naughty children. The ill-mannered ruffians have driven out 17 nannies, and his late wife’s aunt (Angela Lansbury) is threatening to cut off her financial support unless he remarries and gets his family under control.
Brown is at his wit’s end, until a new nanny shows up on his doorstep.
Unlike the familiar and lovely Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) is a wart-faced, snaggle-toothed fright who uses her subtle ways and a little magic to teach the children five lessons (like go to bed on time, get dressed by yourself), simple lessons that ultimately transform the entire Brown family.
Nanny McPhee tells the children that while they need her but don’t want her she will stay, warning that when they want her but no longer need her she must leave. As the children learn their lessons, Nanny McPhee loses some of her ugliness, until the fairy tale ending where all is right, she is beautiful, and Nanny McPhee is on her way.
The film’s humor comes, not surprisingly, from the children’s plots to drive Nanny McPhee away (she never even flinches) and foil their father’s attempts to wed the garishly hideous Mrs. Quickly (thank goodness they are successful). Toads in the teapot, worms in the tea sandwiches, and pigs dressed in clothing offer viewers more than enough giggles to keep everyone entertained. There is a little bit of mildly rude humor, and the adults may notice a one or two mildly suggestive gags when the children wreck havoc on Mr. Brown’s tea with Mrs. Quickly. But those instances are very mild; the film is most definitely acceptable viewing for the kids.
Lovers of literature will see references to stories like Jane Eyre and Mansfield Park in “Nanny McPhee” (servant in love with the master, rich relative taking in a poor relation to give them an education and proper upbringing) as well as traditional fairy tales. The colors have an almost cartoon-ish quality that makes the film look like a story book come to life.
Nanny McPhee is funny twist on the traditional fairy tale that will make children of all ages (even the very naughty ones) giggle with delight.
Nanny McPhee – Universal Pictures’ Delightfully Enchanting New Film