Rewind Review: Nanny McPhee Returns


As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Nanny McPhee returns is a fun film that avoids many of the trappings that typically hamper family-oriented entertainment either by curtailing these issues or outperforming the expectations of the given situations which we may find in many films.

One of the things that makes this film rather delightful and enjoyable is that situations which we are expecting or are set up are only as obstructive as necessary. A case in point would be Phil’s (Rhys Ifans) several attempts to get the farm, upon which our heroes live, sold to settle his debts. Each attempt is no longer and no more of an obstacle than necessary as villains can be both unfunny and overly imposing in family films. The first saving grace the family finds is the sale of prize pigs, he releases them they are recovered quickly enough and with the help of Nanny McPhee. This film also, however, manages to not de-fang its villain simply because he is thwarted quickly.

Both in Ifans’ performance and the tandem of Katy Brand and Sinead Matthews bring over-the-top quirkiness but also humor. There is a fine line between comedically and painfully over-the-top and they tread it smoothly with nary a misstep.

Emma Thompson is certainly to be applauded for the many good things she does with this story as a writer. There is a lovely dovetail into the first film at the very end but for all intents and purposes this is a film that is in no way dependent on its prior installment for you to enjoy it.

Also, there is minimal didacticism. Nanny McPhee is there to teach the children, cousins both from the country and the city who hadn’t met, five lessons. We are not told what each lesson is until it has been learned. While we are told many times that she will leave when she is wanted but no longer needed the clues as to how close she is to leaving are visual and unspoken.

Thompson is also quite funny in her deadpan reincarnation of this character. As a writer though she was again unafraid to let the children drive the story for the most part and has her fun with the supporting cast. The children are all a credit to the film and none, no matter how young, are so-cute-you-could-puke or in any other way annoying unless they are supposed to be and all of them do round out their characters at least to some extent.

Kudos are especially in order for the younger set: Asa Butterfield (who some may know from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and even more will when he is in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo Cabret), Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson.

The only weak link in the cast is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who for some unknown reason is cast as a British housewife. Needless to say her accent isn’t the greatest and she is somewhat off overall here. The credit to her and the film is that you do eventually get past it.

Regardless, Nanny McPhee Returns is a very funny, heartfelt and fun film which likely supersedes its predecessor.


Birthday Movies

As someone who is fanatical about films what better way to celebrate one’s birthday than by taking in a film. I have been doing so for quite some time watching a film on or near my birthday and while some have been better than others many stayed memorable because they became one of my birthday films. Below are some which I have seen. I suggest that if you have not started this tradition you should do so now. With each of these films I seem to remember something about the viewing experience because the screening was on or near a momentous date and thus made the experience somewhat elevated. Some films did turn out to be favorites and as always for an indication as to the significance of the scores check My Rating Scale.

2017 Wind River

Gil Birmingham and Jeremy Renner in Wind River (2017) CR


2016 Don’t Breathe 

Jane Levy;Dylan Minnette;Daniel Zovatto

2015 Sinister 2

Sinister 2 (2015, Universal)

NOTE: Was viewed on 8/28 as I couldn’t get to the movies on 8/27.

2013 Blue Jasmine and Twixt

Blue Jasmine (2013, Sony Pictures Classics)

Twixt (2011, American Zoetrope)

2012 The Apparition

The Apparition (2012, Warner Bros.)

I could’ve had an honorary selection, but then I saw this on the actual day of my birth, and it’s the worst thing I’ve had the displeasure of seeing on this day.


2010 Nanny McPhee Returns

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

This is yet another one of the rare sequels that is more enjoyable than the original, a fact I elaborated on in my initial review. This was a film that also made a dent in my annual BAM Awards. It continued my tradition of strong films on my birthday.


2009 Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2009, The Weinstein Company)

This is without question the best film of the bunch and went on to quite a few BAM wins including Best Supporting Actor. It is a throughly enjoyable moviegoing experience made more special by knowing the time and place where I saw it.


2007 Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007, Universal)

It seems as if Rowan Atkinson is being true to his word and that this was, and is, Mr. Bean’s swansong and if that is so what a way to go. This movie absolutely cracks me up and not only is everything that Bean should be but also has some cinematic commentary to it. Fantastic stuff and still vastly underrated I feel.


2006 How to Eat Fried Worms

How to Eat Fried Worms (2006, New Line Cinema)

How To Eat Fried Worms is another one I’d put in the underrated category. It embraces a child’s love of the grotesque with unbridled glee yet also tells what could be a very trite tale with enough sincerity to escape the commonplace and be something a bit more.


2005 The 40 Year Old Virgin

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005, Universal)

The 40 Year Old Virgin is one of those movie whose reputation preceeds it when it shouldn’t. It’s not a bad film, it’s not a great film. It’s just fine but is often touted as being much more. While not the prime example it’s in the Judd Apatow mold of not knowing when enough’s enough and it’s also not Carell at his best and I am a big fan.


2004 Mean Creek

Mean Creek (2004, Paramount Classics)

This is a film I included in my favorite films of the decade and clearly it was a BAM winner as Best Picture. It’s a film that not only treats its young cast as real people but also isn’t afraid to make them imperfect in an unsensationalistic way. It’s also a film that with its conclusion is unafraid of embracing ambivalence making the one villainous character more gray than black in the end.


2003 Jeepers Creepers II

Jeepers Creepers II (2003, MGM)

Jeepers Creepers is a horror phenomenon I never quite understood. I appreciate what made the original work for people on an intellectual level but did not enjoy it and this one is worse still. It was slim pickings this year and I was better off skipping the cinema.


1999 The Muse

The Muse (1999, October Films)

It’s most definitely not Albert Brooks at his best it almost seems like a riff on Woody Allen that loses steam but it’s not nearly as bad as the IMDb would have you believe. There was a time where Sharon Stone had a string of tremendous roles. Considering what a minor note it was, you can still get a taste of what she was like at her peak.


1996 A Very Brady Sequel

A Very Brady Sequel (1996, Paramount)

This is lovingly satirical adaptation at its finest. It set a precedent that other films have tried to emulate but failed in doing so quite badly. It’s a sequel head-and-shoulders better than its predecessor, compulsively watchable and hilarious stuff.