Nanny McPhee (2005) (2019 Reissue) - Blu-ray review
Nanny McPhee is a person of unsettling appearance and magical powers who enters the household of the recently widowed Mr. Brown and attempts to tame his seven exceedingly ill-behaved children. The children have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies but as Nanny McPhee takes control, they begin to notice that their vile behaviour now leads swiftly and magically to rather startling consequences...
Adapted for the big screen by Emma Thompson, Nanny McPhee is based on the three Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand which were first published in the '60s. It seems that this movie has been reissued purely to capitalise on the new Mary Poppins movie (Mary Poppins Returns). Nanny McPhee is a little like a dark Mary Poppins character, a government nanny who appears wherever there are unruly children.
When she arrives, unannounced, at the Brown household, she appears a grotesque character. She has a nose like two potatoes, warts, eyebrows that meet in the middle, one long protruding tooth and she's almost as wide as she is tall.
Her task is simple: to teach the children a number of "lessons" in basic manners. With each one that is completed her physical appearance becomes a little more normal. Of course, the children are at first not willing to play ball and rise up against her. But, as she manages to use magic over them in order to punish them when they are naughty, they soon start to respect her and eventually start asking for her advice on personal matters.
The children steal the show - all being incredibly well cast. But there are also numerous famous British stage and screen actors that make appearances including Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Sir Derek Jacobi, Patrick Barlow, Adam Godley, Kelly Macdonald and the great Angela Lansbury.
After reviewing the second movie in this series, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, on its original 2010 DVD release I promised myself I would get around to watching the first film. Something, I'm sad to say, I haven't done until now. On reflection I found the second movie to actually be a little stronger. I found Thompson's transformation a little confusing towards the end of this film... it was way too quick and so she went from being grotesque to perfection in the blink of an eye. Maybe it would have helped if they'd filmed a scene where the remaining elements changed individually in close up, before revealing the transformed Nanny McPhee.
I could be wrong (and I'll know soon enough as I've still to review Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang again as it's just been released on Blu-ray) but I remember being more moved and touched by the second movie... I think the problem is there isn't really room for two Nanny McPhee films. It's basically the same premise. Nanny McPhee turns up to bring back control to some unruly children. They resist, get punished, they cave in and start to like Nanny McPhee, who also like the children back. All the lessons are learned and she transforms into a beautiful woman. Those that do watch both films will get a little extra pay off at the end of the second movie.
Nanny McPhee's transformation can be viewed in several ways. I like to think that as the children get to know her they start to not focus on her physical appearance and instead start to see the beauty inside her and the good that she is bringing out of them.
Extras include an audio commentary with the director and the children; Casting the Children (11 min, 39 sec look at how they cast the final line up of the children in the movie); Village Life (3 min, 52 sec look at the construction of the two large sets in the movie: the village and the Brown house); Nanny McPhee Makeover (5 min, 38 sec look at the makeup process for transforming Thompson into Nanny McPhee); Deleted Scene (13 mins. Introduced by the director these include an interesting vintage black and white cut of the scene where Mrs Quickly (Celia Imrie) visits the Brown house. It also includes a funny outtake where Colin Firth appears in full Nanny McPhee costume and makeup, unbeknownst to Imelda Staunton (playing cook Blatherwick)); Gag Reel (2 min, 45 sec of outtakes); and How Nanny McPhee Came to Be (7 min, 41 sec look at the inspiration for the film. Thompson is the main interviewee, but it also interviews a relative of Christianna Brand, the author of the Nurse Matilda books, which themselves were based on stories based down the generations in Brand's family.
Nanny McPhee is an enjoyable family film that hasn't aged at all.
Nanny McPhee (2005) (2019 Reissue)
Starring: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth and Angela Lansbury
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
Release Date: 01 April 2019