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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

Rating: 3/5

Verdict: More of the same sweet, harmless fun for the younger kids.

Thompson stars as the somewhat unattractive Nanny McPhee. Photo / Supplied
Thompson stars as the somewhat unattractive Nanny McPhee. Photo / Supplied

This is the second instalment in the Nanny McPhee film series, written by and starring Emma Thompson and based on the Nurse Matilda children's books by Christianna Brand.

A whimsical tale set in the English countryside during World War II, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is full of slapstick gags, hammy performances and synchronised swimming pigs. A rather fierce-looking nanny with magical powers, Nanny McPhee mysteriously appears on people's doorsteps when she's needed most, and wanted the least.

This is one role Thompson doesn't have to worry about looking good. With hairs sprouting from her facial moles, a protruding tooth and frizzy grey hair, our dear Nanny is no Mary Poppins - and that goes for her bedside manner, too.

Her latest challenge is to assist the colourful Green family, whose father is away fighting the war, leaving Mrs Green (Gyllenhaal) and three kids, Norman, Megsie and Vincent, working hard to keep their ramshackle farm afloat.

Most of the adults in this film are either bumbling idiots, such as Rhys Ifans' Uncle Phil, or eccentric, such as Maggie Smith's elderly Mrs Docherty who likes to sit in cowpats - but what will really appeal to the younger audience is that the kids are smarter than the grown-ups.

All the children put in delightful performances. What Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is missing though, is a little more excitement. It's all very sweet and tasteful and the life lessons it imparts are timeless, but it's too twee and old-fashioned to really ignite your imagination. Still, it's a charming and heartwarming tale that should appeal to those around 10 years of age and under.

Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director: Susanna White
Running time: 109 mins Rating: G

- NZ Herald

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