The stern babysitter with a magical cane has come back to the big screen in Nanny McPhee Returns. It’s a follow up to the 2005 film that starred Emma Thompson as an unconventional nanny who makes it her business to turn wild, unruly children into well behaved citizens. She tackles a new family with a new set of problems but as usual McPhee has the patience and know-how to get things done. Here’s our review…

The Players:

  • Director: Susanna White
  • Screenwriters: Emma Thompson, Christianna Brand (characters)
  • Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Oscar Steer, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes
  • Cinematography: Mike Eley
  • Original Music By: James Newton Howard

The Plot:

Nanny McPhee (Thompson) arrives to help a harried young mother (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war. She uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons. She also has to deal with the brother of the absent father (Ifans) who’s trying to steal the farm right from under the mother’s nose.

The Good:

  • The Story: The overall idea of learning how to accept new people and work together is a universal theme that everyone can relate to. The message can be applied to both children and adults.
  • The Cast: The cast features several heavy hitters from the UK acting community in both large and small roles. The children were wonderful and Gyllenhaal did a much better job at faking a British accent than her brother (Jake) did in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. That was a pleasant surprise.
  • The Humor: The jokes were age appropriate and kept the story light despite its war torn backdrop.

The Bad:

  • The Pace: As an adult it was hard to get interested in the story at the very beginning. The film got off to a very slow start and that’s a problem if you want to keep the attention of younger viewers.
  • The Special Effects: There were several sequences that used CGI and one of them included swimming pigs. This would have been a sight to see if it wasn’t for their cartoonish look. The special effects need to be sharper and more realistic for anyone to take them seriously, whether it’s a child or an adult.


Nanny McPhee Returns is a decent family film. It starts off slow but it has a good story to tell with a message that anyone can relate to.

Rating: 7.5/10

Nanny McPhee Returns hits theaters on August 20, 2010.

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Are you interested in seeing Nanny McPhee Returns this weekend?