tek's rating:

Nanny McPhee (PG)
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This came out in 2005 (2006 in the US), but I didn't see it until 2023. It's based on a series of books called "Nurse Matilda" (which I haven't read, and probably never would have heard of if not for this movie). The screenplay was written by Emma Thompson, who also stars as the title character. While watching the movie, I was thinking I'd probably put my review under "family films", but before that I had the movie listed under "fantasy films I want to see", and that's the category I ultimately went with, because I'm not sure it's entirely family-friendly. (There are some comedically mildly risqué situations.) The story is in some ways similar to Mary Poppins, but there are enough differences to make it worth watching. I didn't mange to love the movie, and it took a little while for me to get into it at all, but I ended up liking it well enough.

So. There's this widower named Cedric Brown (Colin Firth), who has seven children who are terribly naughty. The story begins when they have just driven away their 17th nanny, by pretending to eat the youngest sibling, a baby named Aggie. The other children include Simon, Tora, Eric, Lily, Sebastian, and Chrissie. (I didn't find most of the children particularly memorable, because no time was devoted to developing their individual personalities. I did keep thinking Simon must have been played by Freddie Highmore, but he wasn't.) Cedrick works as an undertaker, but doesn't make enough money to support his large family (though as is so often the case in Victorian stories like this, he still manages to have a few servants). Aside from employing a series of nannies, he has a scullery maid named Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald), who genuinely cares about the children despite their naughtiness, and a cook named Mrs. Blatherwick (Imelda Staunton), who quite understandably doesn't like the children. Unbeknownst to the children, the family is largely supported by a monthly allowance from their late mother's aunt, Lady Adelaide Stitch (Angela Lansbury), who demands that Cedric remarry by the end of the month or she'll cut off the allowance, which would plunge the family into destitution.

Meanwhile, the nanny agency has no more nannies for the Brown family to try, but Cedric hears a mysterious voice say the person he needs is Nanny McPhee. He later sees an ad for her services in the newspaper, but the contact information has been cut out, so he has no idea how to contact her. But she mysteriously shows up at their house, anyway, and immediately begins working for Cedric. She looks rather like a stereotypical witch, and does some magical things to teach a series of "lessons" to the children, to make them better-behaved. While all this is going on, Cedric decides to marry a widow named Selma Quickly (Celie Imrie), whom he doesn't like at all, but she had shown interest in him after her most recent husband died, and he has no time to find anyone better suited to marry if he wants to keep his family together. (Of course, it's fairly obvious to the viewer that there's someone else much better suited to him already close at hand, but the two of them don't realize they love each other until the end of the movie. It's an entirely predictable ending, but it's still a perfectly happy ending.)

Anyway... I'm not sure what else to say about the plot. I'm leaving out a lot of details. Oh, Cedric does have a couple of coworkers, one of whom is played by Derek Jacobi). And all the actors seemed to be having a lot of fun making the movie. I do rather wish I could have had quite as much fun watching it. But it was okay, and I'm definitely glad to have seen it. There's a sequel, which I wouldn't mind checking out someday.

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