Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee

4.4 13
Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury


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A nanny reveals ways of making children behave that are much more effective than a time-out in this fantasy comedy based on the "Nurse Matilda" books for children by Christianna Brand. Near the dawn of the twentieth century, Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) is a widower who must tend to his business as an undertaker while looking after his brood of seven children. Brown's… See more details below

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A nanny reveals ways of making children behave that are much more effective than a time-out in this fantasy comedy based on the "Nurse Matilda" books for children by Christianna Brand. Near the dawn of the twentieth century, Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) is a widower who must tend to his business as an undertaker while looking after his brood of seven children. Brown's offspring are a singularly ill-mannered lot who have managed to drive away 17 different nannies when their father arranges for one Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) to help out with the children. McPhee is an strange looking woman with a large nose, protruding teeth, and pock-marked skin, but it isn't long before the kids realize she has magical powers and isn't afraid to use them to help keep them in line. While the children aren't taken with McPhee's insistence on such things as saying "please" and listening to their elders, it becomes clear everyone has bigger things to worry about. Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) has insisted that if Mr. Brown cannot find a new wife within a month, she'll take custody of one of the children and cut off Brown's inheritance, and while Brown and the widow Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie) seem fond of one another, his ineptitude in courtship seems to insure he'll never get her to the altar. But while the Brown Children realize Nanny McPhee is a formidable opponent, she can also be a valuable ally as they learn to make use of her talents by being better children; they also discover that as they behave better, she begins to look less frightening. Emma Thompson, who played the title role in Nanny McPhee, also wrote the film's screenplay.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
Mary Poppins? In the Brown household, it's more like Hellzapoppin as charmingly flustered widower Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) struggles to control his seven "extremely ill behaved" children. They do not go to bed when they're told. They do not get up when they're told. They do not get dressed when they're told. They say neither "please" nor "thank you." Seventeen nannies have come and gone. But No. 18 -- Nanny McPhee -- is not so easily cowed. Emma Thompson -- who earned an Oscar for adapting Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995) -- again performs double duty here as star and screenwriter, adapting Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books with wit and care into a richly satisfying family film. As Nanny McPhee, Thompson makes an unsettling first impression, masking her beauty behind warts, a bulbous nose, a protruding snaggletooth, and a dour mono-brow. She also has a confounding habit of suddenly materializing out of nowhere ("I did knock," she quietly insists). No spoonfuls of sugar for her. She has a walking stick that dispenses some macabre (and later, wondrous) magic whenever she taps it on the ground. With each improvement in the children's behavior, Nanny McPhee's various blemishes disappear. "When you need me but do not want me, then I will stay," she informs her charges. "When you want me but do not need me, then I have to go." Boy, do they need her; not only to become better-behaved children but to foil the nasty Mrs. Quickly, whom Mr. Brown rather reluctantly prepares to marry to ensure that formidable Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) will continue to financially support the family. Little does Mr. Brown know of his sweet scullery maid Evangeline's (Kelly Macdonald) unrequited love for him, and surely it will "snow in August," the downcast young woman states, before such a fairy-tale romance will come true. Nanny McPhee is not as transcendently supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as Mary Poppins, yet parents seeking a film that can work its considerable magic on the entire household.
All Movie Guide
There's a saying -- or, there should be -- that you can judge a family film by the quality of its moppets. Child actors who are both cute and talented are a must, or else even the world's best story might end up on the scrap heap. Kirk Jones' Nanny McPhee has all the makings of classic material, then: a timeless story, a delightful cast of precocious children, a truly magical production design, and the cream of the crop among adult actors. (As one of those actors, Emma Thompson's presence isn't surprising, given that she adapted the screenplay from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books.) Nanny McPhee contains the perfect blend of the whimsical and the macabre, in keeping with an age-old fairy-tale tradition. The story certainly features details that require a delicate touch, namely, a child who decapitates dolls with a guillotine, and a parent (Colin Firth) who works in a funeral parlor. But because Thompson and Jones keep the tone lightly absurd, these elements are not too scary for younger children. Nor is Thompson's creepy title character, whose methods walk the line between strictness and malevolence, and whose appearance is a makeup artist's dream of prosthetic nastiness. Of course, the story eventually boasts great warmth and compassion as its lessons unfold, particularly during the delicious conclusion -- "delicious" quite literally, as the characters become spattered with colorful gobs of cake icing. In addition to Firth, Thompson and the children (led by Love Actually's Thomas Sangster), two others deserve special mention: Kelly MacDonald as the Browns' darling scullery maid, and Angela Lansbury, hilarious as the stuffy old coot who dictates their fortunes. Thompson's character explains that when the children start wanting her rather than needing her, it's time for her to move on. Indeed, Nanny McPhee leaves its viewers wanting more, too.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Casting The Children; Village Life; Nanny McPhee Makeover; Deleted Scenes; Hilarious Gag Reel; How Nanny McPhee Came To Be; Feature Commentary With Director Kirk Jones and The Children

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Emma Thompson Nanny McPhee
Colin Firth Mr. Brown
Angela Lansbury Aunt Adelaide
Kelly MacDonald Evangeline
Patrick Barlow Mr. Jowls
Thomas Sangster Simon Brown
Jenny Daykin Lily
Raphael Coleman Eric
Samuel Honywood Sebastian
Holly Gibbs Christianna
Hebe Barnes Baby Agatha
Zinnia Barnes Baby Agatha
Derek Jacobi Mr. Wheen
Phyllida Law Viscountess Cumbermere,Mrs. Partridge
Celia Imrie Mrs. Quickly
Imelda Staunton Mrs. Blatherwick
Eliza Bennett Eliza Brown

Technical Credits
Kirk Jones Director
Tim Bevan Producer
Henry Braham Cinematographer
Liza Chasin Executive Producer
Lindsay Doran Producer
Patrick Doyle Score Composer
Nic Ede Costumes/Costume Designer
Eric Fellner Producer
Michelle Guish Casting
Simon Hayes Sound/Sound Designer
Debra Hayward Executive Producer
Mark Holt Special Effects Supervisor
Michael Howells Production Designer
Justin Krish Editor
Nick Moore Editor
Glynis Murray Co-producer
Matt Robinson Art Director
Gareth Tandy Asst. Director
Emma Thompson Screenwriter

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