Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee
Colin Firth as Mr. Brown
Kelly Macdonald as Evangeline
Thomas Sangster as Simon
Eliza Bennett as Tora
Jennifer Rae Daykin as Lily
Raphaël Coleman as Eric
Sam Honywood as Sebastian
Holly Gibbs as Christianna
Hebe Barnes as Baby Agatha
Zinnia Barnes as Baby Agatha
Angela Lansbury as Aunt Adelaide
Celia Imrie as Mrs. Quickly
Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Blatherwick
Elizabeth Berrington as Letitia
Casting the Children
Nanny McPhee Makeover
How Nanny McPhee Came to Be
Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Picture: Running Time: 1 Hour 39 Minutes
Nanny McPhee is based on the “Nurse Mathilda” books by Christianna Brand. The following is from the DVD cover:
“In this wickedly charming tale, Emma Thompson portrays a mysterious woman with special powers who enters the household of the recently widowed Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) and attempts to tame his seven children. The children have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies, but as Nanny McPhee takes control, they begin to notice that their misbehaving has magical and startling consequences.”
Nanny McPhee is rated PG for Mild Thematic Elements, Some Rude Humor and Brief Language.
Like many people, I missed Nanny McPhee when it hit theaters. I had never heard of the books and I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing a Mary Poppins-type story featuring a hideous nanny. However, I was able to check it out on DVD. While I wouldn’t say I was surprised by anything in the film, I will say it was a little better than I was expecting. It had an absolutely fantastic cast, spectacular sets, and a whimsical feel. It was essentially Mary Poppins crossed with Supernanny with a dash of Lemony Snicket thrown in. Colin Firth is charming and the overwrought father. Kelly Macdonald is cute as Evangeline, the meek scullery maid. Angela Lansbury returns to children’s films as Aunt Adelaide. Plus all of the children were very well cast. Nanny McPhee has a lot going for it.
That being said, the film does have a few problems. First off, it was scarier and more intense in some parts than I was expecting. In one scene the infant is put in physical jeopardy. In another scene the kids are pinned to their beds while they thrash around and scream. Another scene shows the stuffy Aunt trying to drag a child away from her family. At other times Nanny McPhee herself is downright creepy. For younger children, like my 4 year old son, it was a little much. You’ll definitely want to consider the PG rating when showing it to kids. And as much as I like Emma Thompson, her character was a bit dry in the film. There’s not really much that’s charming or likable about her. She’s very quiet, understated, and kind of scary at times. She doesn’t make an appealing lead character which is probably why her face isn’t on the DVD cover. Overall, Nanny McPhee is OK, but not really a classic.
There’s a decent selection of bonus features on the DVD. First up is “Casting the Children”, a featurette on casting the children. (Doh.) The director, producer, and other crew discuss the laborious process of finding the kids and getting them to learn their lines for the movie. Next up is “Village Life” which discusses the elaborate sets used in the film. They are incredibly rich and detailed, so this is fun to hear more about. The “Nanny McPhee Makeover” discusses Nanny McPhee’s transformation while “How Nanny McPhee Came to Be” discusses the original children’s books and the changes between them and the film. There is a batch of Deleted Scenes, too. One features an alternate opening with a retelling of Nanny history throughout the ages. (The director’s wife has a brief cameo.) Another deleted scene shows Firth intercepting Evangeline before she can deliver a proposal letter to Mrs. Quickly. The final deleted scene is more of a practical joke and it shows Firth dressing up as Nanny McPhee and surprising the cast. Appropriately enough, a Gag Reel is included featuring flubbed lines and hijinks on the set. (I’ll say, though, that it seems ill advised to include a bleeped out profanity from Firth on a kid’s DVD.) This is all rounded out by a couple of feature commentaries by the director, Emma Thompson, and the kids.