Nanny McPhee Returns

Five years ago the original British "Supernanny" burst onto the scene or screen, I should say, with her hideous looks but her wonderful bag of magic tricks. Though we were slightly frightened of her we adored her. Now the nanny that comes when you need her and leaves when you don't is back with another family oriented film.

I love many of the messages in this film series. They are important without being overly sentimental. For example, it's great how whenever Nanny McPhee has completed teaching the kids one lesson, in this case she has five to teach, one of her facial disfigurements goes away. It is an important message for not just the young ones to portray a woman getting better looking after every nice thing she does. Beauty should come from good deeds or more accurately the inside rather than a surgeon's scalpel. Or maybe it is just old fashioned of me to think so.

Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears on the scene to help Mrs. Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) after her husband (Ewan McGregor) goes off to war leaving her to raise their three children (Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods) by her lonesome. Mrs. Green is in completely over her head with her three lovelies and their two cousins (Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson), who come to stay with them. The two cousins are cityfolk and don't really get the country mentality. Mrs. Green's problems are compounded by her dastardly relative, Uncle Phil (Rhys Ifans), who tries to get her to sell half the farm in order to bail him out of his gambling debts. What is a mom to do?

Why call on Nanny McPhee, of course. Nanny McPhee is a strict woman who will whip those kids into shape in no time flat. At the same time this wondrous woman will, along with the help of her magical walking stick, teach the young ones five important lessons.

Like many British films for younger viewers lately (the Harry Potter series) there is an impressive array of British actors starring in it. Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and Daniel Mays all do great jobs no matter if they are on the screen for mere minutes or lengthy periods. Though in these types of films there is not much character development each actor still has his or her moment to shine.

Delightful is the most fitting word I can think of to describe the way the film looks and its humour. Some of the humour, especially in the case of Maggie Smith's Mrs. Docherty, is rather hit and miss, but it is all rather harmless. The special effects are nice and the bright colours fun for the eye.

The film moves along at a nice pace never allowing itself to linger to long in one place. Adapted by the multi-talented Emma Thompson from the books by Christianna Brand, the story has a wit and warmth to it. Thompson is truly a natural storyteller.

You do have to keep in mind while watching it that the film is a family film and actually meant for young people. It manages to be that without adding double entendres for the adults or talking down to the little ones.

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