Monday, August 30, 2010

Has 'nanny' overstayed her welcome?

It's been a while since we last saw the good, old nanny on the big screen. So much so, that we have forgotten how she operates. When we need her but do not want her, she must stay; when we want her but no longer need her, then she must go. Sure we may have wanted her to return but now that she has, we realize we don't really need her anymore.

Emma Thompson in Nanny McPhee Returns
Nanny McPhee Returns continues the story of the title character through the years of WWII as she arrives at the Green family farm to help out a destressed mother (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) who has to deal with her three wild children, as well as her aristocratic niece and nephew, while her husband (played by a very scarce Ewan McGregor) is off fighting in the war. Life couldn't get much worse, right? Wrong. On top of all this, Mrs. Green is struggling to keep her farm from an evil brother-in-law who needs to sell the farm to pay off his gambling debts.

Luckily, Nanny McPhee (small "c", big "P") shows up, warts and all, to save the day. Or at least that's how it should be, right? Things should start to get better when Scary Poppins arrives; however, her presence only seems to add to the entire mess of the film.

As the movie progresses, things become crazier and crazier and it becomes apparent that there is no structure to this film. It bogs the audience down in an overly busy, hyperactive "subplots" that make you feel like you are in (or would rather be in) a daycare center filled with spoiled brats.

As far as being a sequel goes, it isn't a very good one. Yes, there is much more magic, but much less story, humor, and heart. As in the original, the nanny shows up claiming that she has five lessons to teach the children, but after the first one, the lessons (along with any sense of story) take back seat to almost two hours of CGI antics (such as piglettes doing syncronized swimming, dancing barley that takes the shapes of random animals, and a constantly belching crow). The children start acting as if they are learning their lessons (and Nanny McPhee starts loosing her warts as if they were), but it never quite feels like they garnered their true meaning.

The movie tries ending on a charming, warm note, as its predecessor did, but fails completely. Once the ending hits, it is hard to believe that that's how it is really going to end and we realize that Nanny McPhee  did absolutely nothing to help the family (or our familes at that).

Nanny McPhee is a loveable character and it would have been nice to see her return in a, for lack of a better word, better movie than this. Nanny McPhee Returns is a jumbled mess of a movie and it feels like nothing less than chaos on steroids, it is too long, and I can't imagine any child (or adult for that matter) getting anything out of this film.

Skip it.

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