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.
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