3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
Note: in the years since this review, I have watched this film many times over and found it to be deeper than I originally realized. All of the performances are first class, and the mixture of fantasy, comedy, and drama is perfect. My rating would now be 3.9 out 5 stars (close to being one of the best of the year, if not for some minor issues). While it isn’t perfect, this film was one of the first dramedies I ever saw, and I respect it for that.
Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) is a dad who works with the dead and has seven little problems, ahem, I mean children. His children have once again, for the 17th time, made the nanny run out of the house screaming. Soon he receives a mysterious call and sees an ad in the paper for a new nanny, a government nanny, who somehow just walks up to the door and ding-dongs the doorbell.
Once Cedric opens the door he sees a large, two-warted, protruding-toothed, bulbed-nose nanny, who proceeds to walk into the house and say, “I’m Nanny McPhee.” She (played by Emma Thompson although you wouldn’t know it) asks Cedric five questions about the children:
• Do they go to bed when they’re told? (No.)
• Do they get up when they’re told? (No.)
• Do they say please? (No.)
• Do they get dressed when they’re told? (No.)
• And finally, do they listen? (No.)
Cedric says “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh …” so she decides to stay.
Once Nanny McPhee goes into the kitchen she meets her “problems.” The seven children have tied up their poor cook (Imelda Staunton), who’s always saying, “These children are NOT allowed in the kitchen — I have it in writing!” They are putting socks into the soup, jumping off the chandeliers, making green slimy stuff, and having food fights.
After Peter, one of the children, tells her they won’t stop, she taps her mysterious stick on the ground and they are unable to stop. Just before the baby is about to be thrown into the soup, Peter says, “Please Nanny McPhee, STOP!”
First lesson learned. Nanny McPhee then marches them off to bed and so the lessons start.
Some of the other characters in the movie are the widow Mrs. Quickly, a yellow-haired, evil chatterbox who will never shut up. She’s after Cedric’s money (as most evil stepmothers are) and he will lose the money if he does not marry before the end of the month. Their rich Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury from “Beauty and the Beast”) controls the money since the children’s mother died (yes, the mom died for the millionth time) and she wants him to remarry. She’s blind as a bat, ladies and gentleman, and in one part she thinks that a dancing donkey is one of the children.
The other main character is Evangeline, the scullery maid who is played by Kelley McDonald. She believes that in every child there is a hint of good, even if it’s hard to see. She’s in love with Cedric, but she’s afraid he wouldn’t want to marry her because she doesn’t know how to read.
This movie is a little bit funny, especially the dancing donkey and the scene where the 17th nanny comes running out the door screaming, “They ate the baby!” Some parts are kind of slow, like when snooty Aunt Adelaide is in the house talking about her hat she got from the “Lady.”
I give it 3 and half stars, though, because overall it was a good show. Rated PG for some thematic elements and the fact that he talks to a dead guy.