With hairy warts, a stern-looking unibrow and one extremely protruding buck-tooth, Nanny McPhee
is a wonderfully comedic substitute for Mary Poppins in this entertaining family fantasy. By loosely adapting Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda
children's books of the 1960s, Oscar-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility
) has also given herself the plum role of Nanny McPhee, who can tame even the most unruly children with a tap of her magic walking stick.
Her latest challenge is the bratty brood of a recent widower Mr. Brown (Colin Firth), who's under pressure to find a new wife or lose his much-needed allowance from wealthy Aunt Adelaide (a tailor-made role for Angela Lansbury). His love for scullery maid Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald) remains unspoken as he wincingly woos the eagerly merry widow Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie), but Brown's raucous rugrats have a plan to make things right, especially after they've come under the benevolent influence of Nanny McPhee, whose peculiar brand of discipline works wonders for everyone involved.
Both quintessentially British and universally appealing, this wildly colourful comedy (thanks to a bold palette of costume and production design) was capably directed by Kirk Jones, whose appreciation for comic actors was equally apparent in his critically acclaimed 1998 comedy Waking Ned. With just a hint of darkness to offset the whimsy, Nanny McPhee offers a splendid match of director, cast and material, guaranteed to please Wallace & Gromit fans and anyone else with a taste for British zaniness.-- Jeff Shannon
Nanny McPhee [DVD] [DVD] (2006) Emma Thompson; Colin Firth; Kirk Jones