Movie Review: Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee Trailer

Nanny McPhee Summary

In Victorian Britain, widowed undertaker Cedric Brown is the father of seven unruly children—Simon, Tora, Eric, Lily, Sebastian, Chrissie, and Aggie. He is clumsy and loves his children, but since the death of his wife, has spent little time with them and cannot handle them. The children have had a series of nannies, whom they have systematically driven out with their bad behaviour and pranks. They also take great pleasure in tormenting their cook, Mrs. Blatherwick, a former military cook who declares that there will be “snow in August” before the family is put to rights. Besides their father, the only one the children will ever listen to is Evangeline, the family’s uneducated but sweet-natured scullery maid.

One day, Cedric discovers multiple references for a “Nanny McPhee” throughout the home. That same night during a storm, while the children cause havoc in the kitchen, Cedric opens the door to reveal a hideous woman, who introduces herself as Nanny McPhee. With discipline and a little magic, she transforms the family’s lives. The children, led by Simon, try to play their tricks on her, but gradually start to respect her and ask her for advice. Each time the children learn a lesson, one of Nanny McPhee’s facial defects magically disappears. Over time, the children become more responsible, helping their clumsy father in solving the family problems, making Nanny McPhee less and less needed.

The family is financially supported by Cedric’s domineering and short-sighted aunt-in-law Lady Adelaide Stitch, who demands custody over one of the children. She first wants second-youngest daughter Chrissie, but Evangeline volunteers to go and Adelaide agrees, assuming she is one of the daughters. She also threatens to reduce the family to poverty unless Cedric remarries within the month, meaning the family would lose the house, and be forced to separate.

Desperate, Cedric turns to vile and frequent widow, Mrs. Selma Quickly. The children assume from reading fairy tales that all stepmothers are terrible women who treat their stepchildren like slaves; together, they sabotage Mrs. Quickly’s visit, and she leaves, angry at Cedric. After the financial rationale for the marriage is explained to the children, they realize their mistake; the children appease Mrs. Quickly by confessing they were to blame for ruining her visit. Mrs. Quickly, intrigued when she hears about Adelaide’s wealth and status, reconciles with Cedric and agrees to marry him.

However, the children soon discover that Mrs. Quickly is just as cruel and awful as any fairytale stepmother when she deliberately breaks baby Aggie’s beloved rattle (which previously belonged to their late mother). When everybody is gathered for the gaudy wedding Quickly insisted on, the children disturb the ceremony by pretending there are bees (inspired by the way Quickly told them to “behave,” and baby Aggie repeating the word but pronouncing it as “beehive”), chasing the guests, and starting a food fight using the pastries intended for the banquet. Cedric swiftly understands his children do not like the bride and, recognizing that she is not right for him or his children, joins in the commotion himself. Mrs. Quickly calls off the marriage and storms off in anger.

When it seems that Adelaide’s marriage deadline is missed, Lily suggests that Cedric marry Evangeline; the other children reveal to Adelaide that she is not, in fact, their sister. Evangeline and Cedric resist at first, but then realize their feelings for each other and agree to marry, satisfying Aunt Adelaide’s conditions for maintaining her financial support. Nanny McPhee (who is now fully beautiful), magically makes it snow in August, transforming the wedding scene and changing Evangeline’s clothes into a beautiful wedding dress, and restores the children’s late mother’s rattle for them.

Nanny McPhee leaves surreptitiously, in accordance with what she told the children before on her first night: “When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go”.

Nanny McPhee Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great and magical movie. A modern non Disney version of Mary Poppins. Great movie for a family movie night.

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