Nanny McPhee (Widescreen Edition)
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In this wickedly charming tale, Emma Thompson portrays a mysterious woman with special powers who enters the household of the recently widowed Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) and attempts to tame his seven children. The children have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies, but as Nanny McPhee takes control, they begin to notice that their misbehaving has magical and startling consequences. "A magical, fantastic and wonderful fable that will capture the heart of the whole family!" (Maria Salas, NBC-TV)
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Seven spoiled rotten children that still manage to be not quite Super Nanny material, have managed to chase away their 17th nanny, making the Banks children seem downright well mannered, and coming close to the Addams brood. Not knowing what to do, with the Agency refusing to send any others, their over indulgent father hears a voice directing him to Nanny McPhee, who eventually shows up on her own. She's a rather ugly creature, but just as Baron Von Munchausen gets younger with each adventure, as the children learn each of the 5 lessons she sets out for them (well, one is for Father) she loses a mole here, a blemish there. Nanny McPhee never shouts, and uses the children's own bad behavior against them, until they get with the program.
For the most part, this is a film adults and children can watch, although it rather quickly makes a couple of dips into preciousness, and eventually slides wholesale into downright slapstick, which is wholly unnecessary. From that point on, the movie is a bit saccharine---it would have been nice if it had a bit more consistency with its start, and less of the goo at the end. The monumental soundtrack doesn't help, but at this point, criticizing that is like criticizing the music choices in YouTube videos---does every airplane have to have a heavy metal sountrack, and every liner an electronic elegy?
Ah well. If you liked the movies I associated with this film's look, you'll probably like this one. And if you have children, it's a lot better than a lot of the stuff made for that audience.
It is kind of quirky and sometimes a little scary feeling, but not intensely so. I have 7 and 5 year old granddaughters who enjoyed it without having trouble sleeping afterwards. It has humor, spookiness, sadness, romance, symbolism, and fantasy all rolled into one. The ending will positively give you goosebumps!
Since there has been so many reviews that compare this movie to Mary Poppins, I cannot resist the temptation to add my 2 cents worth. Even as a child, I didn't care for Mary Poppins. I know that a lot of people love it and it is a classic, but in my opinion is is just TOO syrupy sweet. Nanny McPhee just doesn't come off as one dimensionally sugary, and is genuinely interesting to me. There are some similarities in the message, but in Mary Poppins, the children are simply perfect and misunderstood while the parents are neglectful and need to be taught a lesson. In Nanny McPhee, everyone has lessons to learn, and the children are depicted with as much to be corrected as the parent. The result is a story that is so much more interesting and has a more truthful ring than Mary Poppins.
I especially liked how Nanny McPhee's physical appearance functions much like a mirror to the people she is helping. When she arrives, she is hideous - because THEY are hideous, but as the hearts of the family expand and grow, her appearance alters to reflect that. By the end of the movie, Nanny McPhee is as beautiful as the family has become. Love It! It reminded me of the Bible verse that says, "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11) Very insightful message in my opinion. I also thought it was interesting that not EVERYONE in this story is helped to be a "better person" - some of the characters are genuinely blind, greedy and evil. The characters remain so until the bitter end and nothing can help them. Nanny McPhee is sent only to people who have hearts that are able to change. There has been some discussion among religious people over whether "Nanny" is a devil, but I think she is an angel. Even God Himself can look ominous to people who are in a degraded state, and I have no problem with how she appears at first. It is simply an indication of the state of the people who view her, and actually quite aptly drawn.
I always thought that Emma Thompson is one of the most talented performers I know, but now I regard her as a bona fide genius, who can write as well as act. I am not a star struck woman, but this is one person I wouldn't mind meeting some day.
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