The film 'Nanny McPhee Returns' is a lot like Nanny herself. It's not always pretty to look at, but it's charming, funny and warm.
Emma Thompson reprises her role as the Mary Poppins-on-speed nanny who makes magic with the tap of her walking stick at households in total disarray.
Such a household exists in the English countryside during World War II. Isabel (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is trying to run the family farm while tending to three spirited children and a niece and nephew. McPhee brings a little sanity to the chaos.
Director Susanna White, who’s mainly worked in television, creates a world at times as fanciful as “Babe” and at other times as dramatic as “Yanks,” from the absurdity of synchronized swimming pigs to the tragic consequences of war.
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The elements work but the transitions from light to dark scenes can be jarring. Despite the unevenness, the film is good.
The cast is first-rate: Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Smith and Thompson, but Gyllenhaal struggles with the accent.
All can be forgiven because of Thompson’s total transformation into the magical nanny. It’s not just the makeup; it’s her commitment to the role. She makes you believe that there are nannies in this world who can make pigs fly.
“Nanny McPhee Returns” suffers from a slight misdirection in tone and a little loose editing. Look past those flaws to find a story that will entertain kids and the kid in all of us.
'NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS'
* * *
Director: Susanna White
Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith
Running time: 1:48