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Film Review: ‘Nanny McPhee’: A disciplined treat with a magical touch

Underworld Evolution

8 out of 10
Nanny McPhee (2005)
NO SPOILERS

Of all the so-called family films I’ve seen in the past 12 months, two have stood out as films I’ve told adults to go see – whether they have children or not. One is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the second is Nanny McPhee.

This film is a modern classic. Like the latest potter movie, and like the classic Disney films of the 1930s and 1940s, the makers of Nanny McPhee know that evil and dark times are required to make the good times matter.

In the title role, Emma Thompson plays the magical Nanny McPhee, who takes on a physical appearance that matches her charges’ behaviour. The more ugly the children’s behavior, the more ugly the Nanny appears.

As the best-known actor cast in a major role in the film, she succeeds in keeping her supporting role from overpowering the other actors and plot of this sweet film. In a bit part, the films biggest star, Angela Lansbury,
does a delightful turn as the pompous Aunt Adelaide, who is near sighted in more than one way.

The true strength of this delightful film is that it is a true family film. It falls happily into a category of its own. It isn’t mind-numbingly boring to adults like most movies for children. Emma Thompson also wrote the script, which is adapted from the Nurse Matilda series of children’s books by Christianna Brand.

It is no wonder that Thompson has won an Academy Award for her abilities to adapt literature for to the big screen. With Nanny McPhee she again does an outstanding job. Here the adults have human faults and the children talk like children, not miniature grownups.

Thompson has a gift for dialogue which is rare, Thompson sets a rhythm and lyrical quality in all of her scripts that are reminiscent of the playfulness in some of Shakespeare’s farces.

Nanny McPhee is one of those films that didn’t set the box office on fire, but is destined to live for years as a classic family film due to its magical mix of wit and moral relevance.


RATINGS
Overall: 8 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG
Genre:Fantasy
Sex: None.
Violence: Slapstick violence. Some implied dark humor.
Special Effects: Average.

CAST
Emma Thompson … Nanny McPhee
Colin Firth … Cedric Brown
Kelly Macdonald … Evangeline
Celia Imrie … Selma Quickly
Derek Jacobi … Mr. Wheen
Patrick Barlow … Mr. Jowls
Imelda Staunton … Mrs. Blatherwick
Angela Lansbury … Great Aunt Adelaide

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David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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