Nanny McPhee (2005)


Nanny McPhee

Once upon a time, there was a young, dashing movie critic who ventured to see a fairy tale named Nanny McPhee. The critic was scared, as he had done battle with kids’ movies. His record featured duels with the likes of Are We There Yet? and Rebound. He had barely survived.

But our hero had a job to do, and he never shied away from danger. He swallowed his fear, hopped into his silver, gas-fueled chariot, and sped off through the rain and inky darkness to the multiplex, that house of horrors where Cedric the Entertainer and John Travolta lurked. The critic pushed open the heavy doors and made his fateful way to face off against Nanny McPhee.

He settled into his seat and the beast roared… with previews of The Shaggy Dog and Aquamarine. Our hero’s knees buckled, knowing this was a mere appetizer to the main course. The previews ended, and the critic brushed himself off, got into his fighting stance, and prepared to do battle with yet another demon in the January battleground.

He quickly grabbed his blue sword, ready to protect and slash. Nanny McPhee would have none of it. She offered no elixirs of gooey sentiment and cheap laughs. She did not hurl shrill kids and their terrible antics. There was no stupid plot unleashed to weave a sleepy spell. This damsel offered good things, namely, a kindly widower with a brood of kids so rowdy and clever that no nanny could tame them. With the kids on the verge of being taken away from the loving, poor father, and with the children scarier than any sitcom remake, a magical nanny (with a face of a homely, oft-beaten prizefighter) arrived to turn things around.

Oh, there was such fun. Our hero dropped his sword into his scabbard and waited for more. Nanny McPhee was happy to oblige, offering him wicked relatives, candy-colored scenes, a wedding with snow, and some hearty laughs. Sure-footed guides Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, and Angela Lansbury helped him through the pratfalls and pitfalls. Our hero was grateful and amazed: Kids would love the scenery and antics. Adults would appreciate the sly humor and good-natured fun. Our hero had also learned a valuable lesson: Bravery and cynicism are not the same.

‘Thank you, Nanny McPhee, for restoring my faith in the family movie,’ the critic said. ‘You have taken your place alongside my other friends, Little Manhattan and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Are there others like you out there?’

‘We are hard to find, dear critic, so open the people’s ears and spread the word,’ came the reply. ‘We want to help distressed dads and moping moms held prisoner by Elmo and his evil spawn. These are the people, not the English lit grad students hot for Colin Firth, whom we need to reach. Farewell, dear critic. And don’t be fooled by Jessica Alba.’

The critic raced to his chariot and sped off to his one-room castle, happy to spread the message.

This one’s for the nannies.