"Magical Powers from Above, But Who and Where Above?"
NANNY MCPHEE stars Colin Firth as Mr. Brown, a widowed mortician in Victorian England whose seven unruly children are transformed by a mysterious nanny with special magical powers. NANNY MCPHEE is very entertaining, but that doesn't make its apparent use of witchcraft to solve problems any more palatable.
NANNY MCPHEE is very well done and entertaining, to the point of being delightful, but it teaches a belief in using supernatural magical powers to solve problems. This is a kind of witchcraft, especially since the movie never discloses the special powers originate.
Colin Firth plays Mr. Brown, a widowed mortician in Victorian England whose seven unruly children have run off 17 nannies. The nanny establishment has no more nannies, but Mr. Brown hears a mysterious female voice tell him that he needs Nanny McPhee. That night, the ugly Nanny McPhee (played by Emma Thompson), does indeed show up. The children have tied up the cook and commandeered the kitchen. Nanny McPhee uses her magical powers to strong-arm the children into cleaning up and going to bed.
In bed, the eldest, Simon, thinks Nanny McPhee is using hypnosis, so he tells the other children not to look into her eyes. When that fails, the children start to behave. Nanny McPhee tells Mr. Brown that she has five lessons to teach, and she has already taught two of them. After each of the first two lessons, Nanny McPhee’s two warts disappear.
With seven children to feed, Mr. Brown has had to depend on his rich Aunt Adelaide. Adelaide has ordered him, however, to marry within the month, or she will stop giving him money. If that happens, the older children will have to go to the workhouse, and the remaining children will be given away to other people. Mr. Brown decides to marry the unappealing widow, Mrs. Quickly. The only way for the children to stop the wedding, apparently, is to go back to their rebellious ways.
Of course, there is a romantic subplot to this story. The scullery maid working for Mr. Brown, named Evangeline, is a decent but uneducated young woman. When Aunt Adelaide comes to take one of Mr. Brown’s children off his hands, Simon volunteers Evangeline, because he knows how much she wants to continue her education. Evangeline appears at the wedding just in time to help save Mr. Brown from having to marry the horrible Mrs. Quickly.
Nanny McPhee doesn’t always use her magical powers to train the children. She also teaches them to figure things out for themselves. Thus, some of the lessons the children learn are positive.
In the end, however, the children have to stage one more act of rebellion to get rid of Mrs. Quickly. Even Mr. Brown gets into the act in a way that discerning parents will not approve. Thus, although there are some positive, heartwarming elements to NANNY MCPHEE, the theme of magic or witchcraft and rebellion is strong in the story.
The title character’s use of magical powers seems to be identified as coming from above. At least twice in the movie, Nanny McPhee bows to the empty chair that Mr. Brown keeps in honor of his dead wife. And, during the climax of the movie, McPhee looks to the heavens and calls down beautiful snow for Mr. Brown’s wedding to Evangeline. She also looks to the sky again in another seeming acknowledgement of Mr. Brown’s dead wife and some kind of Heaven. Thus, although Nanny McPhee tells Mr. Brown that she is a government nanny, she clearly works for another kind of government, but the movie doesn’t explicitly acknowledge where exactly she gets her special powers or what kind of specific authority she serves. Anyone with such supernatural powers who doesn’t acknowledge and worship the God of the Bible is a person to be shunned.
(PaPaPa, OO, C, B, Ro, L, V, S, M) Very strong occult worldview with title character using magical powers to discipline children and movie suggests she is doing it with the blessing of the children's dead mother in Heaven as well as some Christian content and moral content, including a positive Christian wedding officiated by a church official and children are taught to behave, but mixed in with Romantic notions that a little rebellion now and then can be a good thing; one use of the "H" word and one light exclamatory profanity ("Dear Lord!"); some comical violence such as pratfalls, fight with cakes and pies, unruly children pretend to be eating their baby sister but are eating chicken, unruly children make a mess and tie up cook, nanny uses magic to force children pretending to be sick to stay in bed, man pretending to kill a bee hits woman hard on the head, and mortician seen at funeral parlor with corpses; no sex scenes but mistaken identity leads to a couple mentions of incest and man accidentally falls onto woman several times, leading to light sexual innuendo; no alcohol; no smoking; and, rebellion is not always rebuked and children are disobedient.
NANNY MCPHEE stars Colin Firth as Mr. Brown, a widowed mortician in Victorian England whose seven unruly children have run off 17 nannies. You need Nanny McPhee, a mysterious woman's voice tells him. Sure enough, Nanny McPhee shows up, complete with a bulbous nose, two ugly warts and a snaggletooth. Nanny McPhee uses magic to make the children begin to behave, but Mr. Brown's rich Aunt Adelaide tells him that if he doesn't marry, she will take away her money. The children go back to their rebellious ways to get rid of Mr. Brown's intended bride, a horrible widow.
NANNY MCPHEE is very well done and entertaining, to the point of being delightful, but it teaches a belief in using supernatural magical powers to solve problems. This is a kind of witchcraft, especially since the movie never discloses where Nanny McPhee gets her special powers. Also, although there are some positive lessons and Nanny McPhee doesn't always use magic to force the children to do the right thing, the children have to stage one more act of rebellion. Even Mr. Brown gets into the act, in a way that discerning parents will not approve.