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The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE Nanny Diaries, based on a novel by two former nannies, sets out to combine the feel-good fantasy of Mary Poppins with some of the more biting social commentary of shows like Sex & The City and last year’s Devil Wears Prada. Sadly, it doesn’t get it right.

Co-written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the film takes an interesting premise and a decent cast and squanders much of its potential. It’s not necessarily a bad film, merely disappointing.

College graduate Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) goes to work as a nanny for a rich New York family (Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti) and quickly finds herself struggling to cope with their dysfunction, a new romance (with Chris Evans) and the spoiled kid in her charge (Nicholas Art).

The main problem is that The Nanny Diaries been done better too many times before and attempts to freshen things up by drawing on “the findings” of Braddock’s anthropology studies simply don’t work.

Johansson just isn’t biting enough as the interested observer and looks like she’s struggling during the touchy feely scenes. To be fair, she’s not given much to work with – but then none of the cast is either.

The men, especially, are lumbered with thankless roles – Chris Evans assumes the token love interest and gets nothing to do except look pretty, while Paul Giamatti is the boorish father and villain just waiting to prove his worthlessness.

Laura Linney does manage to elicit some sympathy from another hideous character but even she is defeated by a nonsensical script that makes a mess of attempts to merge surreal flights of fancy with supposedly biting realism.

Come the final confrontations and the inevitable life lessons involved, the film fails to inspire the feel-good glow it was seeking. Rather, audiences may well be questioning the numerous plot-holes that have piled up along the way and just which age group it’s specifically aimed for given the uneven tone (saccharine one moment, scathing the next).

The Nanny Diaries is therefore a wasted opportunity that needed a little more careful minding of its own during the infancy period.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 45mins
UK DVD Release: February 18, 2008