Rated PG; Directed by Kirk Jones; Starring Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Thomas Sangster
What a fun film. “Nanny McPhee” isn’t quite like anything old Walt Disney would have made. This is definitely not “Mary Poppins.” Instead of Disney, it’s almost more of Tim Burton meets Charles Dickens with some Brothers Grimm thrown in. With a wonderful cast, clever filming, and a sweet take on life, “Nanny McPhee” is a nicely satisfying film.
When widowed Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) loses the latest in a long line of nannies due to the horrible behavior of his unruly seven children, he’s at his wit’s end. Is there no one who can bring peace and quiet to his home? Magically, someone shows up. Nanny McPhee is a hideous looking hag (played by the lovely Emma Thompson in delicious makeup) who has a few tricks of her own, outwitting all the children’s wiles. Don’t expect spoonfuls of sugar to make her medicine go down.
Meanwhile, the Brown family has to deal with mean old Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury with some special makeup of her own). Plus, there’s a possible new wife (Cecilia Imrie) for Mr. Brown.
Colin Firth as the befuddled father and Kelly MacDonald as the love-struck scullery maid are perfect and somehow are not lost among the other outrageous characters in the film. The children, especially Simon (Thomas Sangster) carry off their parts in fine fashion and, of course, there’s mysterious Nanny McPhee, cleverly played by Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay). Director Kirk Jones (“Waking Ned Devine”) brings out all the fun and menace with only a few missteps.
Sweet, funny, and with some pleasant lessons, “Nanny McPhee” offers an emotionally satisfying family film.