Nanny McPhee

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/10/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Enjoyable children’s fantasy story with an agreeably nasty streak and superb comic performances from its cast.

The Background
Nanny McPhee might as well be subtitled Emma Thompson: Back With A Vengeance, because, as with her Oscar-winning success for Sense and Sensibility, she’s both the star and scriptwriter for Nanny McPhee.

The film is adapted from the little-known Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand. The books were written in the 1960s, but the film is set in an unspecific sort of storybook world, where colours are bright and supporting characters behave like they’re in pantomime.

The Story
Colin Firth stars as widowed father and undertaker Mr Brown, who has his hands full taking care of his seven unruly children, led by Thomas Sangster (the annoying one from Love, Actually). Though their mother only died a year ago, Mr Brown’s imperious Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) threatens to cut off his allowance if he does not remarry within a month.

When the children find out that their father is planning to remarry without telling them, they step up their campaign of misbehaviour and drive off a series of nannies, much to the exasperation of both scullery maid Evangeline (Kelly McDonald, lovely) and weary cook Mrs Blatherwick (Imelda Staunton, hilarious). However, everything changes when the mysterious, comically ugly Nanny McPhee (Thompson) arrives to take care of the children.

The Good
It’s not hard to see the origins of Nanny McPhee – she comes across as a sort of darker, more mischievous Mary Poppins. Accordingly, there’s a whimsical fantasy quality to the film that works well, particularly in the impressively staged enchantment sequences.

The performances are extremely good, particularly Celia Imrie’s hilarious turn as lusty suitor Mrs Quickly. Thompson handles her character’s transformation well and there’s strong support from both Lansbury and Staunton.

The Bad
Unfortunately, Colin Firth seems as though he’s on auto-pilot and the relationship between his character and Evangeline is unconvincing, if not borderline inappropriate.

The Conclusion
Overall, Nanny McPhee is an enjoyable fantasy drama that will appeal to both children and adults alike. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 25/04/2019 20:54

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