In today’s Hollywood spectrum it seems that the best family films are animated. There are some live action fare that reached critical praise such as Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Karate Kid, but none can be compared to what I believe to be the best family film of 2010 so far – ‘Nanny McPhee Returns’ starring Emma Thompson.
In this sequel, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives once again to help a harried young mother, Mrs. Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), with running the family farm while her husband is away at war. With Mrs. Green’s children waging a personal war with their two spoiled rich cousins, Nanny McPhee comes to the rescue using her magical cane to teach the kids five important new lessons.
It might not seem that difficult to the novice eye, but blending in comedy, action, drama and special effects to create a family film with an affecting message is tougher than one might think. The original film, though sweet and endearing, was much more targeted to seven year olds while dismissing adults. Not so in this follow up where director Susanna White and screenwriter Emma Thompson delve death into the parameters of the story with panache and care.
It cannot go unsaid how remarkable the cast is, in particular the child actors Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson who play the spoiled, rich cousins from London. Their acting skill is leagues apart from the rest of the young cast, which you could argue, might be a detriment to the picture. Nevertheless, it is rare to see actors this young being this good. It is a rare treat to see and enjoy. Maggie Gyllenhaal on her part, who is a true blue American, makes us forget she is from the States with an uncanny authentic British accent. It is perhaps better than Gwyneth Paltrow’s. Ewan McGregor is barely seen in the film but his scene is perhaps the most moving.
‘Nanny McPhee Returns’ is a delightful experience, but different than the original film, I believe adults will be able to indulge a bit more in the story. Leave no bones about it, kids are going to like this charming sequel.