Nanny McPhee (Thomson, who also wrote the script) is the nanny that arrives on your doorstep just when you need her, and leaves when you don’t need her anymore. She’s not cute like Mary Poppins – in fact, her face has warts, bushy eyebrows and a nice set of buck teeth that make for a scary first impression – but there is something magic about her as she sets about teaching children the important lessons in life. We first met the supernatural caregiver, of course, in the lovely Victorian-set movie Nanny McPhee, and now she returns for more hocus pocus in a fun sequel.
This time round, it’s a century later, and she visits the home of Isabel Green (Gyllenhaal), a mother of three living in the English countryside while her husband (Ewan McGregor) is away during World War II. Life is a struggle, as her brother-in-law (Rhys Ifans) wants her to sell the family farm, and Isabel is also taking care of a couple of unruly cousins sent down from London during the Blitz.
While the first movie was set in a very chocolate-box sort of England, one of fairy tales and cuteness, this one is more realistic with its war backdrop. That makes for a bit of an uneven tone – it’s whimsical one minute, grittier the next – but thanks to some lovely performances (including brief appearances from Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor) and jokes kids will love, it’s a yummy family treat nonetheless.
Is Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may be scared by Nanny McPhee when they first see her.