Nanny McPhee (2005)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V-2; L- 1; S/N-1 . Running time: 1 hour 38 min.

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
Proverbs 22:8 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
Galatians 6:7

Nanny McPhee

For those who are put off by the sweetness of The Sound of Music or Mary Popkins. Emma Thompson’s adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand will be a welcome relief. There is a darkness in this story that suggests that it takes more than “a spoonful of sugar” to make the “medicine go down.” With her warts, mountainous nose, snaggle tooth, blotchy skin, and black dress, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson), when she shows up at Mr. Brown’s (Colin Firth) door, seems more like the wicked witch peddling poisoned apples than a caretaker of children.

And in the nick of time, Nanny does show up. Seventeen previous nannies have been driven away by the seven unruly children, one of the distraught nannies crying out as she flees, “They’ve eaten the baby!” Mr. Brown is that parent found only in such stories, a widower on the verge of poverty totally absorbed in his work (he is a mortician) and his desperate search for a new wife, totally inept at dealing with his children. His domineering Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) has been keeping the family afloat financially, but has laid down the stipulation that unless he remarries in thirty days, she will withdraw her aid and cut him out of her will. As only a fictional widower can be, Mr. Brown is blind to the love that his servant Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald) has for him and the children. He considers an obnoxious neighbor Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie) as a candidate for marriage.

Upon Nanny McPhee’s arrival the children are certain that they can drive her away, like all of the others, but they have no inkling of the magical powers and the determination of their new mentor. When they start to fling food and behave terribly in the kitchen, Nanny strikes the floor with her large black stick, and the children find that they cannot stop what they are doing. After a few moments they try to cease but lack the power to do so. Only when they appeal to Nanny, even using the unfamiliar word “please,” does she end the spell. Still believing that they will wear her down, the children have no idea of whom they are up against. She tells them, “When you need me but don’t want me, then I must stay; but when you want me but don’t need me, then I must go.” How Nanny McPhee arrives at this goal makes for delightful viewing, for young and old, even imparting some life lessons in its wake.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) Have you known children similar to Mr. Brown’s seven? What do you think they are seeking by acting up so? How is parental neglect almost as bad as parental abuse?

2) What is it the children need that Nanny McPhee brings? What is it that her magic actually does—as in the kitchen episode and the claim of the children that they have measles? How are children and youth often heedless of the consequences of their acts? How are the two Scripture passages relevant? How would we all be better off if we thought more about the consequences of our desires and actions?

3) Nanny tells Mr. Brown that she is there to impart five lessons. What happens to her face as the children learn and accept each lesson? What do you think this means?

4) How might Nanny McPhee be the bridge between the innocence of childhood and the adult life of responsibility? How is this film similar in this respect to Peter Pan? How has your own journey from childhood to adulthood been? Was there someone like Nanny McPhee to guide you from the one to the other (minus that big black stick, of course)?Nanny McPhee Rated PG. Our ratings: V-2; L- 1; S/N-1 . Running time: 1 hour 38 min.

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.

Proverbs 22:8

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.

Galatians 6:7

For those who are put off by the sweetness of The Sound of Music or Mary Popkins. Emma Thompson’s adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand will be a welcome relief. There is a darkness in this story that suggests that it takes more than “a spoonful of sugar” to make the “medicine go down.” With her warts, mountainous nose, snaggle tooth, blotchy skin, and black dress, Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson), when she shows up at Mr. Brown’s (Colin Firth) door, seems more like the wicked witch peddling poisoned apples than a caretaker of children.

And in the nick of time, Nanny does show up. Seventeen previous nannies have been driven away by the seven unruly children, one of the distraught nannies crying out as she flees, “They’ve eaten the baby!” Mr. Brown is that parent found only in such stories, a widower on the verge of poverty totally absorbed in his work (he is a mortician) and his desperate search for a new wife, totally inept at dealing with his children. His domineering Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) has been keeping the family afloat financially, but has laid down the stipulation that unless he remarries in thirty days, she will withdraw her aid and cut him out of her will. As only a fictional widower can be, Mr. Brown is blind to the love that his servant Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald) has for him and the children. He considers an obnoxious neighbor Mrs. Quickly (Celia Imrie) as a candidate for marriage.

Upon Nanny McPhee’s arrival the children are certain that they can drive her away, like all of the others, but they have no inkling of the magical powers and the determination of their new mentor. When they start to fling food and behave terribly in the kitchen, Nanny strikes the floor with her large black stick, and the children find that they cannot stop what they are doing. After a few moments they try to cease but lack the power to do so. Only when they appeal to Nanny, even using the unfamiliar word “please,” does she end the spell. Still believing that they will wear her down, the children have no idea of whom they are up against. She tells them, “When you need me but don’t want me, then I must stay; but when you want me but don’t need me, then I must go.” How Nanny McPhee arrives at this goal makes for delightful viewing, for young and old, even imparting some life lessons in its wake.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) Have you known children similar to Mr. Brown’s seven? What do you think they are seeking by acting up so? How is parental neglect almost as bad as parental abuse?

2) What is it the children need that Nanny McPhee brings? What is it that her magic actually does—as in the kitchen episode and the claim of the children that they have measles? How are children and youth often heedless of the consequences of their acts? How are the two Scripture passages relevant? How would we all be better off if we thought more about the consequences of our desires and actions?

3) Nanny tells Mr. Brown that she is there to impart five lessons. What happens to her face as the children learn and accept each lesson? What do you think this means?

4) How might Nanny McPhee be the bridge between the innocence of childhood and the adult life of responsibility? How is this film similar in this respect to Peter Pan? How has your own journey from childhood to adulthood been? Was there someone like Nanny McPhee to guide you from the one to the other (minus that big black stick, of course)?