Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

2010-04-08 11:56
 
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

What it's about:

England is embroiled in World War 2 and Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is left to take care of her family farm and her three boisterous kids while her husband is away fighting in the war. The arrival of the children's snobby cousins from the city causes even more chaos as the youngsters clash while Isabel's lay-about brother-in-law Phil (Rhys Ifans) is plotting to sell the farm in order to settle his gambling debts. Soon the family discovers that the person they need is Nanny McPhee.

What we thought:

What was that Hollywood actors' rule about never working with animals or children? It's clearly a load of nonsense as far as Emma Thompson and her to-die-for supporting cast are concerned. In fact, it's the five youngest members of the cast, along with a litter of adorable piglets and a clever crow, who are the real stars of the movie.

Maggie Gyllenhaal dons a rather impressive British accent as the harried Isabel, run off her feet with the upkeep of her family's barley farm while keeping her three boisterous children – Norman, Megsie and Vincent – out of trouble while their father is fighting for his country during World War 2 (the events here take place about 100 years after the first movie). The charming but rough-around-the-edges Green children don't take kindly to their uppity London cousins Ceryl and Celia who've been sent to Deep Valley Farm ostensibly to protect them should the city be bombed. The dotty village shopkeeper Mrs Docherty (Maggie Smith) suggests that who they need is Nanny McPhee, and it's not long before the buck-toothed, black-clad titular governess arrives unbidden on their doorstep offering her services. As in the previous Nanny McPhee movie, the children will need to learn five very important lessons and each lesson learned magically improves Nanny McPhee's ghastly physical appearance.

Short of being preachy and school-marmish about imparting life lessons to its young audience, Nanny McPhee is lots and lots of unbridled fun. The jokes, running the gamut of the requisite cowpat gags and some amusing physical comedy from the child actors, keep the mood light and adventurous. But there is also a dark undercurrent rippling just beneath the surface with constant talk of falling bombs, Cecil and Celia's feelings of parental neglect and the Green children's fears for their father's safety overseas. And it all gets woven together beautifully.

The Big Bang is a truly female-driven success, with Emma Thompson again penning the delightful script and British director Susanna White (best known for her work behind the cameras of HBO's Iraq war mini-series Generation Kill) bringing some truly heartwarming magic and mayhem to the franchise. As was the case during the war, it was due to the strength of the women left behind to care for homes, families and industries that there was even a home for the soldiers to return to, and it's this that Big Bang celebrates with an irresistible passion.

The cast get to really ham it up, in particular Rhys Ifans as the misguided, flat-footed Uncle Phil, and Ralph Fiennes again proves that he is capable of making any military uniform sexy, making a memorable little cameo as the cousin's repressed father.

Employing a healthy dose of magic, imagination and good ol' English country charm, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is the perfect bit of family entertainment that will keep the little ones giggling throughout and is sweet and sentimental enough for grown ups to gush a bit over the magnificence of it all.


Nanny McPhee arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war.

kim 2010/04/20 12:57 PM
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What a charming movie - even my hubby enjoyed it
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