NANNY MCPHEE (Kirk Jones). 97 minutes. Opens Friday (January 27). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It must be fun being pals with Emma Thompson . For one thing, if you're an actor, she'll probably get you work. Thompson wrote Nanny McPhee , based on books by Christianna Brand , and everybody and his dog is in it. Aside from Thompson, who plays McPhee, there are two Love Actually alumni ( Colin Firth and Thomas Sangster ), plus Angela Lansbury , Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi , among others.
Nanny McPhee shares certain characteristics with another governess: she shows up during a storm, cares for an unruly brood with an emotionally absent father, is vague about how long she'll stay and, most importantly, is a witch.
Unlike Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee looks the part, with warts, flyaway hair and a bucktooth. She and eldest child Simon (Sangster) battle for supremacy over the nursery as Simon's father, Mr. Brown (Firth), is forced into a second marriage by his great-aunt (Lansbury).
This being a children's film, there's a lot of food-throwing and raucousness, making us wonder if propagation of the species is really necessary. But everyone's clearly having heaps of fun, including the makeup, wardrobe and set departments -- the frame is full of colour and vibrancy and general madness.
The kids are so good that you wish they'd been old enough for the Harry Potter films. Someone needs to make another Roald Dahl-based movie quickly, before they grow up.