Nanny McPhee Movie Review

Nanny McPhee Movie Review


New movie release, “Nanny McPhee Returns”, is Universal’s movie sequel to the movie of five years ago, “Nanny McPhee”. A title on this summer’s new movie list, it is a dream come true for parents and for children. Excellent movie reviews are sure to put “Nanny McPhee Returns” at the top of the box office.

Emma Thompson plays Nanny McPhee, a very British character who was created by Thompson for the first movie. The very talented Thompson has recreated a new Mary Poppins without music.

But unlike Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee is sort of scary, in a rather delightful way. When she first appears, there are also all sorts of scary premonitions and warnings of storms on the horizon. As a matter of fact, at first seeing the warty, moley, fat McPhee, her charges scurry away and hide under their beds!

The kid’s dad is away at war and their mother, Isabel, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is pulling her hair out over the antics of her three children and a farm she can’t afford. To top things off, three cousins from the city suddenly appear for a visit. Then there’s sneaky brother-in-law Phil, played by Rhys Ifans. He is after Isabel to sell her farm so he can get his hands on the proceeds to pay his own debts.

Suddenly Nanny McPhee appears on the scene. While she has some concoction of a story about being in the British Army, she is now into childcare. This is an odd turn of events but kids won’t question it.

She offers magical lessons to the five children who are instantly calmed by the clunk of her cane as it hits the floor. In the beginning, Nanny is using her magic on the children. Soon, the children love the magic and they began to behave without the need of it, although they love all the magical things that happen, like having a baby elephant sleep in their beds!

The child actors are terrific: the best being Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson who play the cousins who are visiting. They, of course, at first look down their noses at the farm but this changes as the film progresses.

Thompson shows much talent at developing some of the smaller roles and scenes. Vlahos and Asa Butterfield, Isabel’s oldest boy, are excellent in their confrontation of Vlahos’ uptight military father, who is played by Ralph Fiennes. Sinead Matthews and Kathy Brand are excellent as a couple of women out to get Uncle Phil to pay up. Bill Bailey is wonderful as the guy who lives next door to the kids.

There are a couple of roles that are weakened by some of the over the top comedy demanded of some of the actors such as the shopkeeper, played by Maggie Smith, and the air raid warden played by Sam Kelly. It seems that in Nanny McPhee Returns, the older you get, the funnier you are.

Emma Thompson’s makeup has its own role in the film. As the behavior of the children improves, Nanny McPhee’s moles and warts start disappearing.

The only disappointment of “Nanny McPhee Returns”, is the final act where CGI magic replaces story and characters.

Cinematographer Mike Eley does an amazing job shooting 1915 as if it were 2010, foregoing such conventions as overemphasis of historical details.

Jacqueline Durran is equally talented in costume design and Simon Ellliott’s production design is flawless. James Newton Howard is a little too loud and fast with the music but it doesn’t take anything away from the movie.

“Nanny McPhee Returns” is a welcome return indeed. It’s rated PG and runs for 108 minutes. Take the kids so nobody thinks you went to see this one of summer’s movies play now by yourself and enjoy every minute of it!


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