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Nanny McPhee - Review

Emma Thompson in Nanny McPhee

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Nanny McPhee Makeover; Casting The Children; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; How Nanny McPhee Came To Be; Audio Documentaries.

IN AN age that seems to be dominated by tales of naughty children and ‘Supernannys’, I guess it was only a matter of time before the film industry tackled the subject.

Nanny McPhee is therefore a timely piece of work, featuring Emma Thompson as a magical child-minder who sets about taming the mischievous instincts of some of the naughtiest kids around.

Sadly, the film lacks any real magic of its own, for despite a high calibre cast and some slick production values, it’s a curiously laboured affair, over-populated by precocious children.

Colin Firth stars as bumbling widower, Cedric Brown, who struggles to keep his seven unruly kids in hand while trying to find a new wife and mother for them.

When their latest governess is forced to flee the household in record time he resorts to desperate measures, eventually tracking down Thompson’s strange Nanny McPhee and giving her free reign to do what is necessary to calm them.

And so begins a battle of wits between the children and McPhee that can only lead to one conclusion – love and respect all round.

Nanny McPhee is clearly a labour of love for Thompson, who not only stars but co-wrote the screenplay from the popular Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand.

Unfortunately, it lacks the charm of Mary Poppins (which it is clearly trying to emulate) and all too frequently panders to easy laughs and ill-advised special effects (a talking, dancing pony is particularly exasperating).

Thompson, herself, looks like a cross between The Wicked Witch of the West and Worzel Gummidge, thanks to a face over-run by warts and a hideous buck tooth, while Firth seems content to merely trot out another of his polite but affable leading man performances.

There’s some spirited support from Angela Lansbury, as a domineering Great Aunt, and Imelda Staunton, as the home’s cook, but they’re over-shadowed by the children, who remain an unlovable bunch led by the particularly annoying Thomas Sangster (of Love Actually fame).

Young kids might just find the odd laugh amid the mayhem but families are best advised to head to the West End in search of the real Mary Poppins if they really want to be entertained.