Review: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

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The Pitch: The latest from the British film franchise for children with all the famous faces that’s not Harry Potter.

The Review: Emma Thompson has a lot of strings to her bow, and 2005’s Nanny McPhee gave her the chance to show off several of her talents at once. Not only did she create a memorable screen presence in the title character, but she also did an accomplished job in adapting Christianna Brand’s Nurse Mathilda book for the big screen. The Nanny is back (which makes it sound more like a revenge slasher movie, admittedly), but unlike the books Nanny is now with a new family in a new setting, but still trying to achieve the same effect.

And there’s no harm in that when the original was so full of charm. It takes the sequel a little while to get going, admittedly, as the tone is slightly uncertain at the start and the discussion of war is slightly confusing against the contemporary tone. (It soon becomes abundantly clear which war we’re referring to.)

But soon things settle down and the pieces fall into place. There’s a number of lessons to be learned by the children, all of whom are good without being outstanding, and the episodic structure formed around these lessons keep things moving along nicely. A lot of the little ‘uns at the screening I was at had numerous questions about the war setting, but thankfully Thompson anticipates these but never allows the answers to slow the pace.

A whole raft of top British thesps and comedians round out the cast, and every single one adds a little bit of quality to proceedings. There are some well handled set pieces along the way, sure to raise a chuckle or occasionally a tear. But this is top quality family film making – it undoubtedly skews young, but for those with young children to entertain, there’s little of this quality about at present.

Why see it at the cinema: While noisy teenagers can be off-putting when watching a film, the sound of the enraptured joy and comical reactions of the small kids you’ll probably see this with actually add to the experience. Kids say the funniest things…

The Score: 8/10

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