Film Review with Robert Mann – Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang


Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang ****

It’s the Easter holidays again and, as usual, the film studios have several choices lined up for family viewing, although only two really worth mentioning – firstly the latest DreamWorks Animation effort How to Train Your Dragon, which will no doubt be the dominating movie at the box office, and the number two film for this school holiday, Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang, the sequel to the very popular 2005 family film Nanny McPhee. Given the dominance of the American film industry in the realm of family entertainment (and blockbusters in general come to think of it) it is quite refreshing to see a completely British made family movie grace our screens again but, following underwhelming returns for British made features in recent years, a lot is resting on this film to not only deliver quality family entertainment, the kind of which only the British can really provide, but also to restore British cinema to a position of popularity with British cinemagoers.

The magical Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears at the door of Mrs Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away fighting in the Second World War and is also having to contend with her brother-in-law Uncle Phil (Rhys Ifans) who is determined to convince her to sell the farm. But once she’s arrived, Nanny McPhee discovers that Mrs Green’s children Norman (Asa Butterfield), Megsie (Lil Woods) and Vincent (Oscar Steer) are fighting a war of their own against their spoiled city cousins Cyril (Eros Vlahos) and Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) who have just moved in and have wasted no time in causing havoc. Relying on everything from a flying motorcycle and a statue that comes to life to a tree-climbing piglet and a baby elephant who turns up in the oddest places, Nanny McPhee uses her magic to teach her mischievous charges five new lessons.



Nanny McPhee is not exactly a film in need of a sequel yet Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang nonetheless proves to be a very worthy follow up. More a new adventure featuring the titular character than a direct sequel (the film takes place in a different time period to the original film although there is one loose link to the first film), The Big Bang does not have that much of a plot, the narrative mostly going from one of Nanny McPhee’s lessons to the next, but it makes up for this in other areas. The messages at the heart of the story are good and honest and today’s children could certainly learn a lot from them. The humour is clean, simple and old fashiones, completely avoiding anything that is crude, aside from a few (tastefully done) poo jokes. The film has moments of ingenuity, particularly the ‘Scratch-O-Matic’ invention which resides on the farm. The visual effects are extremely charming, with the animals being brought to adorable life, especially the piglets that are so adorable, especially when they are doing acrobatics, flying or performing a synchronised swimming number (yes, you read that right). Visually, the film is nice to look at in virtually every respect, with beautiful countryside locations and a a period authentic recreation of World War Two London providing backdrops and set design being both colourful and vibrant. Such vibrancy is also present in the extremely colourful characters that inhabit the story, everyone brought to life superbly thanks to a series of great performances from the film’s cast. Reprising the titular role of Nanny McPhee, Emma Thompson (who also wrote the script and acted as executive producer) is completely perfect, American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal shows a different side with a lively performance and delivering a very convincing British accent and the child performers are all superb too, with special mention going to Rosie Taylor-Ritson. The intruding cousins are suitably stuck up and horrid while the other children are perfectly full of energy as their characters fight back against them. The all star British cast also includes Maggie Smith, Bill Bailey, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Sam Kelly, Katy Brand and Sinead Matthews. The only weak link in the cast is Rhys Ifans who is strangely underwhelming in his role. Overall, Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang is perfect family entertainment for this Easter holiday. It may not be the best family film of the year but it is certainly one of the most magical and you after seeing it you will believe that pigs can fly.

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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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