Directed by: Kirk Jones
Written by:Emma Thompson
Starring: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Imelda Staunton, Kelly Macdonald, Derek Jacobi, Angela Lansbury
Released: January 12, 2006
Grade: C+

It’s the Christmas school holidays and an avalanche of family orientated films are currently screening in cinemas.  There’s Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Cheaper By The Dozen 2, Chicken Little and Valiant.  I make reference to these films because I believe them to be superior to Nanny McPhee, which arrives late in the summer season.

Many will use the same reference but it’s hard not to classify the film as a modern day version of Mary Poppins without the songs.  Cedric Brown is a single father with seven troublesome kids to take care of.  Every nanny he hires ends up quitting.  Along comes Nanny McPhee.  She’s a rather ugly looking lady but her magical powers ensure that all children behave just as she would like.

There’s a catch to using the services of Nanny McPhee.  When the children need her but don’t want her, she will stay.  When the children don’t need her but want her, she must leave.  In other words, when the kids grow to appreciate her, then it’s time to move on to the next family.  Are you picking up on the Mary Poppins similarities yet?

Emma Thompson stars as Nanny McPhee and also wrote the screenplay, based on the Nurse Matilda novels of Christianna Brand.  Thompson is no stranger to scriptwriting having won a deserved Oscar in 1996 for adapting Sense & Sensibility.  I’m not critical of her performance here but rather the blandness of the whole film.  Harry Potter and The Chronicles Of Narnia have far more substance and adventure.  Ok, so they had a much bigger budget to work with but Nanny McPhee is dull.

The only point of interest for me was the appearance of 80-year-old Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote), who hasn’t been seen in cinemas since the early 1980s.  She has a fun role and the performance matches it.